The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN is a socially constructed reality. It started with a common vision among its founding four member countries, eventually shared by ten nations, seized by the private sector and the non-governmental stakeholders, made inroads into our collective regional consciousness and now aims to be a more integrated community. This has been a product of four decades of interactions, socialization and cooperation at various levels both within and outside of government circles.
The establishment of ASEAN and the process of community-building are political instruments needed to maintain and promote regional peace, security and order. With a stable regional order, ASEAN Member Countries should be able to pursue their social and economic development aspirations without their survival, independence and well-being being threatened by anyone in the neighborhood. Regional solidarity has also prevented any external power from wielding undue dominance or interference in domestic and regional affairs. At the same time, being part of the world state system, most ASEAN Member Countries have maintained their close relationship with some Major Powers which preceded the birth of ASEAN or their membership into ASEAN.
Although the founding document of ASEAN has expressed an aspiration to build a “partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations”1 , it has taken another four decades of interactions, socialization and cooperation, before the organization has gained sufficient confidence to aim for the establishment an ASEAN Community with capital C. This decision to move from common to proper noun has set into motion parallel efforts to formulate and carry out plans of actions towards constructing the security, economic, and socio-cultural pillars of the ASEAN Community. It has also led to the decision to have a legal and institutional framework that is supposed to meet the challenges of realising the ASEAN Community – the ASEAN Charter.
There are several reasons which could explain why ASEAN is deliberate in its policy decisions that concern the nature of the organization and inter-state relations in the region. First, foremost in the minds of the founding members of ASEAN was self preservation. This was the reason why the Bangkok Declaration had expressed the members’ determination “to ensure their stability and security from external interference in any form or manifestation in order to preserve their national identities in accordance with the ideals and aspirations of their peoples.” Their shared responsibility was for the preservation and survival of each individual member.
Second, for geopolitical causes, ASEAN’s aspiration of bringing all ten Southeast Asian countries into the organization proved to be a protracted process over its first three decades. The Indochina conflict divided Southeast Asia. It would seem insensitive if not provocative to talk about a Southeast Asian community where almost half of the countries concerned were outside of the organization. Finally, the organization needed time to help build mutual confidence, understanding, common views and regional consciousness. The lessening of tensions facilitated the shift towards greater regional dialogue and engagement. These processes accelerated with the significant increase in regional interactions following the end of the Cold War and the acceleration of economic globalization.
The philosophical basis of regional community building
Indeed, there is a school of thought in International Relations which considers the international system as a social construction2. This view of international relations assumes that (a) the structures of human association are determined primarily by shared ideas rather than material forces, and (b) the identities and interests of nations are constructed by these ideas rather than by nature. In other words, the deep structure of society, both national and international, is constituted by ideas and that social structures have the power to shape and represent collective identities and interests, help nations find common solutions to problems, prescribe expectations for behavior, and define common security threats.
Social constructivists believe that material forces are important in society only when they are constituted with particular meanings for nations. These material factors include (a) human nature, (b) natural resources, (c) geography, (d) forces of production, and (e) forces of destruction. In other words, power and strategic interests matter, but how they matter depends on whether nations are friends or foes, which is a function of shared ideas and social consciousness. For example, U.S. military power means one thing to Canada and another to Cuba, or China’s re-emergence means one thing to North Korea and another to Taiwan.
Thus, if states consider the international system basically as a strategic domain where they compete for power, influence and material gain, then war and arms race would be permanent features in global politics. On the other hand, “if anarchy is what states make of it” as argued by Alexander Wendt, then a system of state relations could be constructed where community building and the promotion of cooperative security could be its primary preoccupation, instead of the formation of strategic alliances in a competitive security system.
Within the context of this conceptual framework, community building in Southeast Asia is, therefore, a policy choice and not an imposition nor predetermined. It is a shared idea whose time has come. It is aimed at turning around the undersocialization of Southeast Asian states as a result of centuries of colonization and segregation by different foreign powers. It is also aimed at consolidating the peace dividend with the end of inter-state conflicts and proxy wars by giving form to the new found space for greater dialogue and cooperation. Community building in Southeast Asia is both a culmination and the birth of a new era. It brings to a higher level the regional discourse facilitated by ASEAN with a view towards greater integration and solidarity. In philosophical terms, community building represents the constitutive result of ideational relations.
The ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC)
The ASEAN Leaders have proclaimed that the ASEAN Community shall have three pillars: security, economic and socio-cultural. The rest of this article will focus on the socio-cultural pillar, which represents ASEAN’s social and human development agenda3. From the very beginning, the framers of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Plan of Action have believed that the ASCC is interrelated with the two other pillars. The Declaration of ASEAN Concord II recognizes that the three pillars of the ASEAN Community are “closely intertwined and mutually reinforcing” for the purpose of ensuring peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region. The ASCC Plan of Action specifically acknowledges that, “the ASCC is linked inextricably with the economic and security pillars of the ASEAN Community”. The ASCC would contribute to enhancing regional prosperity and stability. There is common understanding that prevalent human security provides a strong foundation for national stability and even regional harmony.
There are basically two ways in which the social component of community building contributes to regional peace and security. The first is at the domestic level where progressive social welfare, development and justice, contribute to building greater social harmony, contentment, and sense of belonging. The second is at the inter-state level where cooperation in social and cultural spheres creates positive mutual perceptions, make people identify with each other, and address potential irritants among neighboring states with adjacent borders and resources.
According to former ASEAN Secretary-General Rodolfo Severino, if one conceived of the socio-cultural community as a vehicle for developing a sense of Southeast Asian identity, building a regional awareness and fostering mutual understanding among the people of ASEAN, then it should be “the core” of the ASEAN Community4. He added that Southeast Asia cannot be an enduring security community, an effective economic community and an ASEAN Community “in its truest and deepest sense” without being a socio-cultural community. He believes that ultimately and on a broader scale, a sense of regional identity will not be possible unless it is based on some common values. Without the adoption of a common set of values, ASEAN could not hold its members to any standards of behaviour freely agreed upon and would find it impossible to promote a sense of community among ASEAN’s people.
In a major study examining ASEAN’s role in regional security order, Amitav Acharya found out that ASEAN’s founders were largely inspired by the goal of developing a regional social community rather than an institutionally integrated economic and military bloc, which could overcome the divisions and separations imposed by colonial rule and lead to peaceful relations among the newly independent states of the region. His study affirmed that ASEAN evolved as a sort of imagined community where the vision of community preceded rather than resulted from political, strategic and functional interactions and interdependence. At the same time this imagined community thrived through socialization, normative development and a conscious process of identity building5.
The Social Baselines
ASEAN Leaders know that the social construction of ASEAN could enhance its legitimacy if it makes positive impact on the lives of its constituency. Such process would entail addressing fundamental social issues that reinforce a sense of community building and regional solidarity. ASEAN has, therefore, embarked on a comprehensive agenda of functional cooperation in such fields as poverty eradication, social welfare and development, labour and employment, education, youth, environmental sustainability, disaster management, culture, information, and others. The thematic elements of the ASCC Plan of Action include poverty eradication, managing the social impact of economic integration, environmental sustainability, and promoting regional identity. These are supposed to represent the social agenda of ASEAN, which would complement the economic and political pillars.
ASEAN has placed poverty eradication and rural development on its agenda because of their substantive and symbolic value in projecting ASEAN as a caring and sharing community of nations. It is an issue that is very important for a significant proportion of the half a billion people in the least-developed and developing economies of Southeast Asia. In this regard, ASEAN has established a specific cooperation agenda and mechanism in the field of rural development and poverty eradication. Furthermore, “narrowing the development gap” among its members constitutes a major ASEAN agenda, particularly since the Vietnam-initiated Hanoi Declaration on Narrowing Development Gap for Closer ASEAN Integration of 2001.
A joint assessment by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the United Nations Development Programme and the Asian Development Bank, has reported that Asian and Pacific region as a whole is on its way to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 20156. Specifically, in the ASEAN region, impressive achievements in poverty reduction have been registered in Indonesia and Vietnam. The proportion of people living on less than $1 a day came down from 17.4 to 7.5 in Indonesia and from 14.6 to 2.2 in Vietnam between 1993 and 2002. Great strides have also been achieved by other countries in reducing poverty.
ASEAN has made rapid and competitive integration into regional and global markets for goods, services, and investment over the past several decades. While the ASEAN region has accounted for approximately 8.3 per cent of Asia’s total GDP in recent years, the region has generated around 22 per cent of Asia’s total exports, placing the region behind China, Asia’s largest exporter, but ahead of Japan. At the same time, ASEAN represents a vast consumer market, larger in terms of spending power than India’s, although ASEAN’s entire population is only half that of India.
In most ASEAN Member Countries, greater economic openness has fuelled growth and job creation, especially in export sectors. Economic openness also drives structural changes such as a shift away from employment with low productivity areas, such as agriculture, to those with higher productivity, such as industry and services. At the same time, greater economic openness has brought stronger competition and greater labour market pressures. The accelerated pace of job creation has been accompanied by job losses, contributing to increased job insecurity.
Indeed, the region remains home to millions of working poor. Of ASEAN’s more than 262 million workers in 2006, more than 148 million did not earn enough to lift themselves and their families above the US$2 a day poverty line. Of these, 28.5 million lived with their families on less than US$1 a day. This means that more than 1 in every 10 ASEAN workers and their families live in extreme poverty7.
The ASEAN Baseline Study8 reported that eight countries of ASEAN, on the basis of their respective national poverty lines, had income poverty rates ranging from 5 to 35 percent at various years during the period 1999 to 2003. Rural areas recorded higher poverty rates than urban areas, with the rural poverty rate registering between 11 to 42 percent compared to the urban poverty rate ranging from 2 to 25 percent.
Using the international poverty line of $1 a day, poverty rate in ASEAN ranged from a low of 0.2 percent to a high of 77.7 percent. Based on this standard, the average poverty rate of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) was recorded as four times higher than that of the other ASEAN Member Countries. The disparity though becomes a little less – at just twice the other ASEAN Member Countries – when the 2 PPP $ a day standard is used.
Many ASEAN countries have achieved remarkable gains in ensuring that, by 2015, children, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. For example, the ratio of the number of children of official school age who are enrolled in primary school to the total population of children of official school age in Cambodia went up from 69.3 in 1991 to 97.6 in 2004, while in Laos, the figure increased from 67.4 in 1991 to 81.7 in 2004. As reported by the ASEAN countries at various periods, overall literacy rate ranged from 68.7 to 95.1 percent.
Individual governments play a major role in attending to the health needs of the population through policies and provision of services. This commitment is translated into budgetary allocations for health. The ratio of government expenditure for health from ASEAN Member Countries that provided information, ranged from 1.3 to 7.8 percent of total government expenditures. Life expectancy at birth ranged from 59 to 79 years for both male and female. In general, the life expectancy of females was higher than males on an average of 4.5 years in 2003. Access to safe drinking water is higher in the urban areas in ASEAN Member Countries. There was, on the average, 77.8 percent of the total population in ASEAN with access to safe drinking water. About 90 percent of this is in the urban area.
The spread of emerging infectious diseases has been a logical subject for international and regional collaboration because no single country can effectively address this challenge. Recognizing that the highest national infection levels of HIV in Asia continue to be found in Southeast Asia, ASEAN has formed the ASEAN Task Force on AIDS (ATFOA) and held two special sessions on HIV and AIDS at the Summit level in 2001 and again in 2007. An online ASEAN-Disease-Surveillance Net has been developed while cooperation with various countries has been undertaken in developing regional preparedness, including stockpiling of Tamiflu and personal protective equipment for potential influenza pandemic.
The share of expenditure on social protection to total government expenditure ranged from 0.02 to 8.0 percent. However, available reports showed that only a maximum of 32.5 percent of the population were covered by some social security schemes. Social protection available in the ASEAN Member Countries includes pension and unemployment allowance/subsidy, among others. Seven out of ten ASEAN Member Countries have adopted legislation or policies addressed to particular disadvantaged populations, such as victims of domestic violence, child trafficking and the disabled.
The 2007 edition of Labour and Social Trends of the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific devotes its full report to major trends in social and labour conditions in the ASEAN region. The ILO report stresses that in the process of developing closer integration, ASEAN Member Countries will face many challenges, including improving the competitiveness and productivity of enterprises, promoting skills development and decent work opportunities for the workforce, and addressing the challenge of working poor and the issues related to the growing cross-border mobility of labour. Other challenges relate to women’s employment, the ageing of the population in some countries, occupational safety and health at work and HIV/AIDS in the world of work.
The variations in development and wealth between ASEAN Member Countries present a unique challenge to regional integration. Such differentials are a major driving force for intra-regional labour migration, which represents both a source of comparative advantage and a challenge to manage. Another challenge comes with finding a balance between economic growth and social development.
Since 2000, total employment in ASEAN has increased by a healthy 11.8 per cent, from 235.2 million to 263 million, an increase of 27.8 million additional jobs. Over the same period, total unemployment in ASEAN rose by 6.3 million, or 51.3 per cent, to 18.6 million.
Labour participation rate of women among ASEAN Member Countries ranged from 46.3 percent to 74.8 percent. The average participation rate of women in the labour force for ASEAN was 50.8 percent. On the average, the participation rate of women in CLMV was higher than that of the ASEAN-6. Young women and men aged 15-24 are disproportionately affected by rising unemployment. While they made up 21.6 per cent of ASEAN’s labour force in 2006, they accounted for 58.7 per cent of the region’s total jobless.
Despite the robust economic growth of recent years, the informal economy has remained massive, accounting for an estimated 156 million people, or nearly 60 per cent of the ASEAN workforce in 2006. The informal economy has a female face, with more women in informal employment than men, indicating that women tend to have more limited employment opportunities.
Fast-growing intra-regional movements of workers are evidence of increasing labour market integration between the ASEAN Member Countries. In 2005, the total number of migrants originating from ASEAN was estimated at about 13.5 million, almost 40 percent of whom (5.3 million people) were in other ASEAN Member Countries. The growing cross-border mobility of labour has benefited sending and receiving countries as well as the migrants themselves. But the large and growing numbers of irregular migrants mean that questions related to managing migration and ensuring migrants’ protection become pressing.
The recent ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and the Promotion of Rights of Migrant Workers shows that Member States recognize their needs and responsibilities in this area, and that, if properly managed, the mobility of ASEAN’s human resources can become a unique comparative advantage in the global marketplace. Following the Declaration, ASEAN has established the Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers to carry out the Leaders’ mandate.
Between 2005 and 2015, ASEAN labour force is expected to increase by 55 million, or 19.8 per cent. Within this period, total employment in agriculture is projected to contract by 6.6 million, while employment in industry and services is expected to expand by around 24 million and 35 million, respectively. The service sector will not only be the main source of job creation, it will also become the largest employment sector, representing about 40 per cent of total ASEAN employment by 2015.
Poverty reduction strategies need to shift gradually from targeting those in extreme poverty to mitigating vulnerability to poverty among many more millions of people. Concentrating on factors that encourage productivity growth and the creation of quality jobs will be critical to promote sustainable competitiveness, quality employment and decent work.
In an era of rapid structural changes and increasing competitive pressure, it is essential that workers are protected, including migrant workers. Appropriate measures include strengthened social safety nets and labour market policies such as job-search assistance and retraining programmes to help workers adjust and to mitigate the costs of such adjustments.
Forest fires have shown to have caused damage to the environment and the efforts to control them have been given focus by ASEAN. In this regard, the region has entered into the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. The agreement provides for the establishment of the ASEAN Coordination Center for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control and Indonesia has offered to host the Center. A draft host government agreement and draft terms of reference for the management and operations of the Center are now being worked out.
Preservation of forests is important for environmental sustainability. In fact, the fast pace of deforestation has led to dire consequences for the environment and societies. In general, the average forest cover of CLMV is higher than the average of ASEAN-6 by about 16 percent. Corrected for population, Lao PDR has the highest forest area per capita at 2.41 hectares per person. The Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam have the lowest forest area per capita at less than half a hectare per person. On the whole, CLMV recorded a higher average than ASEAN-6.
One of the commitments under the MDG is the reduction of carbon dioxide and ozone depleting Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) in the atmosphere. Between 2000 and 2003, the carbon dioxide emission per capita was lowest in Cambodia at 0.04 ton per capita and highest in Brunei Darussalam at 17.7 tons per capita. For the whole ASEAN, the average emission during the period was estimated at 1.6 tons per capita. On the average, the carbon emission of CLMV is much lower than the average of ASEAN-6.
On promoting regional identity and solidarity, the ASEAN Baseline Report looked into the availability of television channels from other ASEAN countries as an indication of the interest of the viewers on the life, culture and developments in other ASEAN countries. Three countries reported positively for this indicator, with Cambodia recording the highest number of non-Cambodian TV channels albeit most of these came from Thailand. Lao PDR had 7 channels from Thailand and Viet Nam. Singapore reported having 3 channels from other ASEAN members. Viet Nam did not carry any TV channel from other countries. Four countries gave information on ASEAN movies being shown in local cinemas.
The formal education system is being used as a channel to promote ASEAN identity. Of the ASEAN Member Countries that provided data, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam cited ASEAN history and culture as a subject by itself in their respective school curricula. Regional institutions have been established to advance this goal, including the Regional Centre for History and Tradition established by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization and the ASEAN University Network which supports ASEAN studies programmes.
The Essentials of the Social Pillar
The social ASEAN is a body of social work, issues, public policies, advocacies, stakeholders and the processes of how they interact with one another. There are at least three inter-related means or processes towards a stronger and democratic construction of the social pillar of the ASEAN Community. Firstly, the purposes, activities and achievements of ASEAN must be communicated to the peoples of Southeast Asia. They must be convinced that the governments of Southeast Asia do not just pay lip service to regional cooperation and solidarity, but are truly committed to engaging each other for the common good. They must be made aware and convinced that ASEAN as an organization could provide strategic direction that is capable of drawing together diverse but constructive ways and opinions of contributing to the establishment of a regional community.
ASEAN must reflect the genuine aspirations of its constituencies and rally the relevant social forces towards achieving them. The peoples of Southeast Asia must be convinced that an ASEAN Community is primarily dedicated to promoting and protecting their interests and not necessarily the status quo. The people of Southeast Asia will not be interested in ASEAN if it is not relevant to them or, worse, if it works against social change and transformation. It is, therefore, worth noting that progressive concepts like comprehensive security, addressing the development divide, democracy, human rights and good governance, among others, have found their way in recent and major regional agreements, such as the ASEAN Vision 2020, Declaration of ASEAN Concord II and the ASEAN Charter.
Secondly, ASEAN should recognize that it cannot establish the social pillar by itself. The concept of ASEAN should permeate and instill beyond inter-governmental. The official ASEAN must work with the social ASEAN. The official track should set the direction, promote an enabling environment, and inspire our people. At the same time, the official ASEAN should continue to play the critical role of being what ASEAN Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong calls “an enabling and enriching catalyst” for regional understanding and cooperation.
In this regard, ASEAN should continue to engage and empower the regional networks of civil society, think tanks, professional organizations, academic institutions, the scientific community, the humanitarians and first responders, the private sector, and other advocacy groups that are committed to the ideals and purposes of an ASEAN Community. The most prominent of these are the networks of the ASEAN-Institutes of Strategic and International Studies, the ASEAN Peoples’ Assembly, and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, among others. Being on the ground, the non-governmental sectors could help bring the ideals, spirit and message of ASEAN to their respective constituencies. But most importantly, they should be encouraged to continue to strive and pursue their own distinct and independent ways and means of contributing to establishing the ASEAN Community.
Thirdly, ASEAN should continue to undertake functional cooperation in the fields of people-to-people interactions, cultural tourism, academic exchanges, promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers, and information exchanges through broadcast, print and electronic media. ASEAN must follow up on the gains of the 12th ASEAN Summit of 20079 with its theme of promoting one caring and sharing community. For the purpose of promoting people-to-people interactions, ASEAN has established the ASEAN Foundation, which is celebrating its tenth year anniversary this year. The ASEAN University Network, the annual ASEAN Tourism Forum, the ASEAN Campus Journalists’ Exchange Programme, the ASEAN news exchange program, the Network on ASEAN Cultural Heritage, the annual ASEAN Youth Camp, and the ASEAN Migrant Workers Forum are some of the current projects or bodies that perform concrete, useful and practical activities towards the same fundamental goal.
ASEAN must fully embrace the Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs eight goals and 17 specific targets from halving the proportion of people living below poverty line to halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation and other targets constitute measurable commitments for promoting social integration in development. ASEAN’s commitment to narrow the development gap among its members should be sustained. These are some of the mandates of various ASEAN bodies responsible for social welfare, labour, rural development and poverty eradication.
Some important factors that are needed for a sustainable social construction of ASEAN include an enabling policy environment, sufficiently allocated or mobilized resources and a system of regional governance that empowers the various stakeholders. Realistically, while ASEAN can draw up the right policy direction, it can never raise the level of material resources needed to carry it out fully, particularly in eradicating poverty in the region. Being an inter-governmental organization of developing countries, ASEAN has limited resources of its own and relies primarily on its members and development assistance from its friends abroad. Most of ASEAN’s resources, such as those coming from the ASEAN Development Fund established since 2004, are spent mostly on developing the institutional capability of its members and not on delivering the goods and services directly to the people of Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, with greater institutional capability and credibility, ASEAN could still potentially do more in mobilizing resources and collaborating with other development partners. The challenge is in designing and carrying out policy interventions that matter for the people.
ASEAN as a socially constructed reality plays a pivotal role in building regional norms, institutions and identity. Regional dialogue and cooperation provide the platform and favorable environment for managing interdependence, disputes, and engagement with the rest of the world. Moreover, ASEAN’s strategic value lies in its convening power, framing of issues, setting up decision-making processes, and regional advocacy. Nevertheless, to a significant extent, the prospects of producing legitimating factors for the social ASEAN and the extent of its contribution to securing regional peace and stability remains largely within the competence of individual ASEAN member countries. For example, directly addressing the challenges of poverty eradication, employment security and sustainable environment, among others, remain the primary responsibility of national governments.
But regional dialogue could produce regional advocacy. The Member Countries, themselves, have acknowledged ASEANs’ potential advocacy role. In the process of launching the Vientiane Action Programme at the 10th ASEAN Summit in 2004, the ASEAN Leaders stated that, “National initiatives will fundamentally drive the manner and extent to which these issues are addressed. However, the Member Countries can gain significant leveraging of political commitment and goals at the national level through regional advocacy.”
Between commitments and results lies process. Thus, efforts should continue to build regional governance that is inclusive, enlightened and resilient. Unless we get our regional governance right, commitments could be under-achieved, altered along the way or simply disregarded if not altogether reversed – not necessarily by our own choice, but could be the making of those who are against change.
Indeed, social construction, in the form of identity and community building, is a far more superior way of promoting peace, stability and cooperation at the regional and international levels compared to other strategic-oriented approaches, such as preoccupation with balance of power or strategic equilibrium. The social ASEAN represents a promising case and deserves our support.
*M. C. Abad, Jr., is a Director at the ASEAN Secretariat based in Jakarta. This article is based on his paper presented at the 21st Asia Pacific Roundtable held in Kuala Lumpur on 4-8 June 2007.
- The ASEAN Declaration, Bangkok, 8 August 1967.
- Alexander Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).
- ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Plan of Action, Vientiane, 2004.
- Rodolfo Severino, Southeast Asia in Search of an ASEAN Community, (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2006), pp. 368-370.
- Amitav Acharya, Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia, (London: Routledge, 2001), pp. 194-195.
- Millennium Development Goals: Progress in Asia and the Pacific 2006. A joint report by UN-ESCAP, UNDP and ADB, Bangkok, 2006:
- ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Labour and Social Trends in ASEAN 2007: Integration, Challenges and Opportunities, Bangkok, 2007.
- ASEAN Baseline Report: Measurements to Monitor Progress Towards the ASEAN Community, A report prepared for the ASEAN Secretariat by Mario Lamberte, et. al., March 2006.
- See Cebu Declaration Towards One Sharing and Caring Community, 13 January 2007: