1. The ASEAN Secretariat was established on 24 February 1976 by the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN. The Agreement on the Establishment of the ASEAN Secretariat stated that the basic mandate of the ASEAN Secretariat is “to provide for greater efficiency in the coordination of ASEAN organs and for more effective implementation of ASEAN projects and activities”. The more detailed functions of the ASEAN Secretariat were embodied in the functions and powers of the Secretary-General (See Annex A). The ASEAN Secretariat was established with the following composition: Secretary-General, three Bureau Directors, a Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Officer, an Administrative Officer, a Public Information Officer and an Assistant to the Secretary-General.

2. Several amendments to the 1976 basic Agreement have been made since then. The 1983 amendment was made to provide for the possibility of expanding the composition of the ASEAN Secretariat staff by adding a clause under Article 4 “and such other officers, as the Standing Committee may deem necessary”.

3. In 1985, the tenure of office of the Secretary-General was changed from 2 years to 3 years.

4. In 1989, the posts of Deputy Secretary-General and nine Assistant Directors were created.

5. The Singapore Summit of 1992 agreed on the restructuring of ASEAN institutions. These included (a) regularizing the formal and informal summits, (b) the dissolution of the five ASEAN economic committees and the establishment of SEOM and AFTA Council, (c) the redesignation of the Secretary-General of the ASEAN Secretariat into the Secretary-General of ASEAN with an enlarged mandate to initiate, advise, coordinate and implement ASEAN activities and (d) the professionalization of the ASEAN Secretariat staff on the principle of open recruitment.

6. The Manila Protocol of 22 July 1992 implemented the Singapore Summit decision. The tenure of office of the Secretary-General was increased to five years. Changes in the basic functions of the ASEAN Secretariat have been reflected in the functions and powers of the Secretary-General, which appears as Annex B.

7. In 1997, an additional post of Deputy Secretary-General was created.

8. The Sixth ASEAN Summit mandated the review of the overall organizational structure of ASEAN in order to further improve efficiency and effectiveness, taking into account the expansion of ASEAN activities, the enlargement of ASEAN membership, and the current regional situation. As part of this review, the Summit also decided to “review the role, functions and capacity of the ASEAN Secretariat to meet the increasing demands of ASEAN and to support the implementation of the Hanoi Plan of Action”.

9. In pursuance of this mandate, the ASEAN Standing Committee established in September 1998 a Special Directors-General Working Group on the Review of the Role and Functions of the ASEAN Secretariat. To assist in the review process, the ASC commissioned PriceWaterHouse Coopers in November 1998. The ASEAN Directors-General considered the consultant’s Final Report in April 1999.

10. While upholding the basic mandate of the Secretary-General of ASEAN as set out in the 1992 Protocol Amending the Agreement on the Establishment of the ASEAN Secretariat, the ASEAN Standing Committee agreed that the ASEAN Secretariat should function as coordinating Secretariat to help facilitate effective decision-making within and amongst ASEAN bodies. The Secretariat would emphasize more on substantive matter, while its tasks on servicing the various meetings would be precisely defined.

11. The ASEAN Secretariat has now put in place a functional structure. One of the two Deputy Secretaries-General has assumed the role of chief-of-staff who shall be responsible for corporate affairs to ensure efficiency in the internal management of the ASEAN Secretariat. The other Deputy Secretary-General shall serve as chief operations who will support the Secretary-General in operations and policy matters.

12. Corporate affairs shall include the following areas: administration; finance and funding; human resources; public information; information technology; and special projects. The operational bureaus will include the Task Force for Financial Cooperation and Macroeconomic Surveillance; Economic and Functional Cooperation; Trade, Investment and Services; and Programme Coordination and External Relations.

13. The measures aimed at improving internal management of the ASEAN Secretariat include (a) the formulation of annual operating plans to provide a framework for determining the Secretariat’s priorities and resource allocation decisions; (b) strengthening of corporate services, particularly in financial management, it services, and human resources development; (c) considerable increase in professional Locally-Recruited Staff to free senior officers’ time from administrative and secretarial tasks, enabling grater focus on strategic and substantive matters.

Positions Old Complement New Complement
Secretary General 1 1
Deputy Secretary-General 2 2
Director 4 4
Assistant Director & Programme Coordinator 16 14
Senior Officer 15 23
Programme Officer 5 27
Assistant Programme Officer 21 28
TOTAL 64 99

The chart below reflects the current and New ASEAN Secretariat professional staff complement.

ANNEX A

Functions and powers of the Secretary-General of the ASEAN Secretariat (Excerpts from Agreement on the Establishment of the ASEAN Secretariat,Bali, 24 February 1976)

The Secretary-General shall:

1. be responsible to the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting when it is in session and to the Standing Committee at all other times;

2. take charge of the Secretariat and be responsible for the discharge of all the functions and responsibilities entrusted to him by the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and by the Standing Committee;

3. have the authority to address communications directly to the Contracting Parties;

4. (a) attend personally all the ASEAN Ministerial Meetings as Secretary (b) be in attendance at all meetings of the Standing Committee; and (c) attend or designate a representative to attend the meetings of all ASEAN committees and other similar bodies;

5. keep himself informed or all the activities of all ASEAN Committees and other similar bodies and (a) explain, whenever necessary, the directives of the Standing Committee to ASEAN Committees and other similar bodies; (b) ensure that the ASEAN Committees and other similar bodies are informed on relevant current developments in the activities of ASEAN; (c) act as the channel for formal communications between: (i) ASEAN Permanent Committees, ad hoc Committees, Experts Groups, and other ASEAN bodies and the Standing Committee, and (ii) the Secretariat and other international organizations and Government; and (d) assist, where required, various committees, groups and bodies set up within the framework of ASEAN;

6. Ascertain facts or seek clarifications for the purpose of reporting to the Standing Committee for its

consideration;

7. prepare an Annual Report for submission to the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting;

8. harmonize, facilitate and monitor progress in the implementation of all approved ASEAN activities;

9. initiate plans and programmes of activities for ASEAN regional cooperation in accordance with approve policy guidelines;

10. be responsible for the Secretariat’s security;

11. prepare the Annual Budget Estimates of the Secretariat for the approval of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting;

12. exercise the administrative and financial powers vested in him under the provisions of this Agreement and such other Rules and Regulations as may hereafter come into effect;

13. act as custodian of all ASEAN documents; and

14. perfom suich other duties and missions as the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting of the Standing Committee may direct.

ANNEX B

Functions and powers of the Secretary-General of ASEAN (Excerpts from Protocol Amending the Agreement on the Establishment of the ASEAN Secretariat, Manila, 22 July 1992)

The Secretary-General shall:

1. be responsible to the Heads of Government Meeting and to all Meetings of ASEAN Ministers when they are in session and to the Chairman of the Standing Committee at all other times;

2. take charge of the Secretariat and be responsible for the discharge of all the duties and responsibilities entrusted to the Secretary-General by the Heads of Government Meeting, the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the Standing Committee;

3. have the authority to address communications directly to the Contracting Parties;

4. initiate, advise, coordinate and implement ASEAN activities;

(a) develop and provide the regional perspective on subjects and issues before ASEAN;

(b) prepare the ASEAN 3-year plan of cooperation for submission to appropriate ASEAN bodies and approval by the Heads of Governments;

(c) monitor the implementation of the approved ASEAN 3-year plan and submit recommendations as and when necessary to the ASEAN Standing Committee;

(d) conduct and collaborate in research activities and convene meetings of officials and experts as required;

(e) plan, programme,, coordinate, harmonize and manage all approved technical cooperation activities.

5. (a) serve as spokesman and representative of ASEAN on all matters, in the absence of any decision to the contrary in respect of a specific subject by the Chairman of the Standing Committee;

(b) conduct consultations with the Contracting Parties, the private sector, the non governmental organizations and other constituencies of ASEAN;

(c) coordinate ASEAN dialogues with international and regional organizations and with any Dialogue Country that may be assigned to him.

6. (a) be in attendance at all Heads of Government Meetings;

(b) be the Secretary to all the Meetings of ASEAN Ministers;

(c) address the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on all aspects of regional cooperation and offer assessments and recommendations on ASEAN’s external relations;

(d) participate in and provide technical support to all Meetings of the Standing Committee and chair, on behalf of the Chairman of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, all Meetings of the Standing Committee, except the first and the last.

(e) to participate and provide technical support for the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting;

(f) participate and provide the technical support for the Senior Officials Meeting, the Senior Economic Officials Meeting, other ASEAN Committees, and the Chairmen of task forces and working groups set-up within the framework of ASEAN as necessary;

(g) attend or designate representatives to attend and participate as a member in the Meetings of all ASEAN Committees and other similar bodies;

(h) monitor the implementation of the Agreement on the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) Scheme for the ASEAN Free Trade Area (A.FTA), serve as a member of, and provide support to the Ministerial-level Council set up to supervise, coordinate and review the implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Area;

7. (a) ensure that the ASEAN Committees and other similar bodies are informed of the directives of the Standing Committee and on relevant current developments in the activities of ASEAN;

(b) act as the channel of formal communications between: (i) ASEAN Committees, and other ASEAN bodies and the Standing Committee; and (ii) the Secretariat and other international organizations and Governments;

8. administer fends established for ASEAN cooperation;

9. ensure organizational discipline in the Secretariat and have authority to recruit, terminate or promote staff under the provisions of this Agreement and such other Rules and Regulations as may hereafter come into effect;

10. exercise the administrative and financial powers vested in the Secretary-General under the provisions of this Agreement and such other Rules and Regulations as may hereafter come into effect;

11. prepare the Annual Budget Estimates of the Secretariat for the approval of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting;

12. act as custodian of all ASEAN documents;

13. be responsible for the Secretariat’s security; and

14. prepare an Annual Report for submission to the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting.