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November 15, 2008 17:42 PM  

Asean Charter Set To Be Enforced After Thailand Ratification

By D. Arul Rajoo

BANGKOK, Nov 15 (Bernama) -- The Asean Charter is set to come into force next month after Thailand delivers the 10th and final instrument of ratification.

Ambassador Don Pramudwinai, Thailand's permanent representative to the United Nations, deposited the document with Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan at the Thai mission in New York yesterday.

"This is certainly an occasion to celebrate for the 570 million people of Asean. This means that when the Asean leaders gather at their annual summit in mid December, the Asean Charter will have come into force," Surin said in a statement.

On Nov 12, the Philippines deposited its instrument of ratification and a day later Indonesia did so.

The 10 Asean leaders signed the charter last November at the 13th Asean Summit in Singapore and it will now come into force after the 14th Summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from Dec 13 to 18.

Surin said that when the leaders meet again in Chiang Mai, they would celebrate not only the full ratification of the charter but also the entering into force of the new basic law of Asean.

"It will be a rules-based and people-oriented organisation with its own legal personality."

The Asean Charter is considered as a constitution for the grouping founded in 1967 and now comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

A high-level taskforce, which sourced inputs from many avenues including an Asean Eminent Persons Group, was given the task to produce the charter and the initial draft was first made public at the 12th Summit held in January 2007 in Cebu, the Philippines.

With the charter, Asean can now move from a loosely-organised regional body towards a more rules-based inter-governmental organisation in order to better meet the challenges posed by community-building, regional integration and rapid globalisation as the region envisages the creation of a free trade zone by 2015.


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