The ASEAN Charter will introduce the following institutional changes to ASEAN:

  • ASEAN will, for the first time after 40 years of existence, be conferred with a legal personality of an Inter-Governmental Organization.   Details will have to be worked out in a supplementary protocol.
  • ASEAN Leaders shall meet (at least) twice a year :  one among themselves to focus on ASEAN Community affairs; the other (the usual one) will include meetings with Dialogue Partners in ASEAN+1 (with China, Japan, RoK, India), ASEAN+3, and EAS.
  • Three ASEAN Community Councils shall be established
    • ASEAN Political and Security Community (APSC) Council [with 5 Sectoral Ministerial Bodies]
    • ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council [12 ]
    • ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council [12 ]
  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers will form the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) to assist ASEAN Leaders in preparing for Summits, with support from SG and ASEC.
    • The ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM of Foreign Ministers) will be renamed as “ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting” and will be one of the four Sectoral Ministerial Bodies of the APSC Council.
    • They will continue to participate in the ARF.
    • And they will also be Members of the SEANWFZ Commission (SEANWFZ is the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone.  The Treaty on SEANWFZ was signed in Bangkok on 15 December 1995.)
  • Single ASEAN Chairmanship
    • Chair of the ASEAN Summit will be the same Chair of other key ASEAN bodies, including the three Community Councils, the ACC, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM), as well as their respective Senior Officials Meetings (SOMs), and also the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN [to be established in Jakarta].
    • The ASEAN Chairmanship will start on 1 January and end on 31 December.It is possible that the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM) may also be included under the Single ASEAN Chairmanship.
  • Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN
    • Each Member State shall appoint a Permanent Representative to ASEAN (ASEAN PR), who will reside in Jakarta.
    • Collectively the ASEAN PRs shall form the Committee of Permanent Representatives.
    • Essentially the new Committee will take over many of the regional functions of the ASEAN Standing Committee (ASC), including external relations, supervising the ASEAN Secretariat, etc.
    • Dialogue Partners and “relevant inter-governmental organizations” may appoint and accredit Ambassadors to ASEAN (but no residency requirement).
      Article 46 reads :
      “Non-ASEAN Member States and relevant inter-governmental organisations may appoint and accredit Ambassadors to ASEAN. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting shall decide on such accreditation.”
  • ASEAN human rights body
    • It will be a new organ of ASEAN.
    • The  TOR will have to be formulated after the signing of the Charter, and approved by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting.
  • ASEAN Foundation
    • The ASEAN Foundation, which is located in Jakarta,  will be accountable to the Secretary-General  of ASEAN.  (It used to be  directly supervised by the Board of Trustees, consisting mainly of ASEAN Ambassadors to Indonesia in Jakarta.)
  • ASEAN Committees in Third Countries and International Organisations
    • The important role of the ACTC is reaffirmed in Article 43 of Chapter XII : External Relations.
    ASEAN National Secretariats
    • Article 13 of Chapter IV reaffirms the role of the ASEAN National Secretariats in serving as “the national focal Point”.
  • Decision-Making will continue to be based principally on consultation and consensus  (Article 20, Chapter VII: Decision-Making)

    “1. As a basic principle, decision-making in ASEAN shall be based on consultation and consensus.”
    “2. Where consensus cannot be achieved, the ASEAN Summit may decide how a specific decision can be made.”
    “3. Nothing in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article shall affect the modes of decision-making as contained in the relevant ASEAN legal instruments.”
    “4. In the case of a serious breach of the Charter or non-compliance, the matter shall be referred to the ASEAN Summit for decision.”

  • As advised by the ASEAN Economic Ministers,  flexible participation is permissible under Article 21:  Implementation and Procedure, Paragraph 2, which reads:

    “2.  In the implementation of economic commitments, a formula for flexible participation, including the ASEAN Minus X formula, may be applied where there is a consensus to do so.”

  • English is reaffirmed as the working language of ASEAN in Article 34, Chapter X : Administration and Procedure.
  • Under Chapter XI, the following will add to the creation of ASEAN identity:
    • ASEAN Motto :  “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”
    • ASEAN flag
    • ASEAN emblem
    • ASEAN Day : 8 August
    • ASEAN anthem (there shall be one)
  • Enhanced Mandate and Role of the Secretary-General of ASEAN
    The Secretary-General of ASEAN will have enhanced  mandate and  role in :
    • Monitoring progress of implementation of Summit decisions and ASEAN agreements;
    • Ensuring compliance with economic commitments, especially those in the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint;
    • Reporting to the ASEAN Summit on important issues requiring decision by ASEA N Leaders;
    • Interpreting the ASEAN Charter if and when requested;
    • Interacting with Entities Associated with ASEAN;
    • Representing ASEAN’s views in meetings with external parties;
    • Advancing the interest of ASEAN and its legal personality.
  • 4 Deputy Secretaries-General (DSGs)
    • 2 DSGs from the usual national nomination under the alphabetical order, serving a one 3-year term.
    • 2 other DSGs from open recruitment, whose  3-year term may be renewed by another 3-year.
    • However, these 4 DSGs and the SG will have to come from 5 different Member States – to ensure equitable distribution of the senior posts.
    • Each of the three ASEAN Community Councils will be served by one of the DSGs.
    • The fourth DSG may concentrate on ASEC affairs and narrowing the development gap among ASEAN Member States.
  • No change to the equal sharing of the contribution to the annual operating budget of the ASEAN Secretariat.   
    • In the current financial year, ASEC has been given US$9.05 million.   Thus each Member State contributes US$905,000 to the budget.
    • The ASEAN Secretariat staff now consists of SG, 2 DSGs (from Cambodia and Indonesia—Lao PDR and Myanmar are next in line to nominate theirs), 60 openly-recruited staff from 9 Member States (none from Brunei Darussalam), and about 200 support staff (almost all are Indonesians).