|The organizational structure
of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is continuously evolving. ASEAN does
not have a Charter like that of the United Nations to govern its machinery. Its most basic
document is the ASEAN Declaration specifically adopted on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok,
Thailand. The ASEAN Declaration specifically provides for a machinery consisting of only
the following: an annual ASEAN Ministerial Meeting consisting of Foreign Ministers of
ASEAN member countries; and ASEAN Standing Committee, chaired by the Foreign Minister
hosting the next ASEAN Ministerial Meeting; Ad-Hoc Committees and Permanent Committees;
and a National Secretariat in each member country. Since 1967, the ASEAN structure has
been reorganized by the various Summit Meetings and Ministerial Meetings.
The ASEAN Declaration of 1967 envisions an
Association consisting of all countries in Southeast Asia. It took more than thirty years
for this vision to be realized. The founding members of ASEAN are Indonesia, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Singapore and Tahiland. Brunei joined in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Laos and
Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999.
The ASEAN Summit
The highest authority of ASEAN is the
Meeting of the ASEAN Heads of States/government or the ASEAN Summit. Its first meeting was
held in Bali, Indonesia, in 1976, and its second in Kuala lumpur, in 1977. Its third
meeting was held in Manila in 1987, twenty years after the founding of ASEAN. During this
meeting, it was decided that the leaders would meet every five years. Consequently, the
fourth meeting was held in Singapore in 1992 where the leaders agreed to meet more
frequently, i.e., every three years. Thus, the fifth meeting was held in 1995 in Bangkok
and the sixth meeting was held in 1998 in Vietnam. The seventh meeting is scheduled in
Brunei in 2001. During the fifth Summit in Bangkok, the leaders decided to met
"informally" in each of the two years between formal summits. Thus, Informal
Summits were held in Jakarta in 1996 and in Kuala Lumpur in 1997.
The ASEAN Ministerial Meeting
The ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) is the
annual meeting of Foreign Ministers of ASEAN. Its Chairmanship is rotated annually and in
the alphabetical order among the ASEAN activities. It recommends to the ASEAN Heads of
State?Government the appointment of the Secretary-General of ASEAN.
ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting
The ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM)
directs ASEAN economic cooperation. Like the AMM, its Chairmanship is rotated annually and
in the alphabetical order among ASEAN member countries.
Joint Ministerial Meeting
The Joint Ministerial Meeting (JMM) meets
usually before a Summit to facilitate the cross-sectoral coordination of ASEAN activities.
It consists of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers and ASEAN Economic Ministers.
Other Ministerial Meetings
There are also meetings in other fields of
ASEAN cooperation, i.e., Finance, Agriculture and Forestry, Energy, Tourism,
Transportation, Environment, Labor, Law, Science and Technology, Rural Development and
Poverty Eradication, Information, Social Welfare, Education, and Transnational Crime.
Meeting of Senior Officials
Senior officials involved in ASEAN
cooperation meet more frequently than the ministers. The ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting
(SOM), which reports to the AMM, is responsible for coordinating political cooperation
ASEAN. The ASEAN Senior Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM), which reports to the AEM, is
responsible to coordinating activities in the fields of trade, agriculture, enery,
investments, industry, transport, and tourism. The ASEAN Standing Committee (ASC) consists
of the Director-Generala of the ASEAN National Secretariat from each Member Country. ASC
coordinates ASEAN functional cooperation activities and is responsible for ASEAN
administrative matters. The SOM, SEOM and ASC meet together as the Joint Consultative
Meeting (JCM) to facilitate inter-sectoral coordination at the level of senior officials.
There are also meetings of senior officals
corresponding to the various ministerial meetings. In addition, there are also ASEAN
functional cooperation committees which report to the ASEAN Standing Committee, to wit:
Committee on Social Development, Committee on Science and Technology, Committee on Culture
and Information, ASEAN Senior Officals on Drug Matters, and the ASEAN Senior Officials on
Secretary-General of ASEAN and the ASEAN
The Secretary-General of ASEAN, who has
misterial rank, is appointed for a term of five years by the ASEAN Heads of
State/Government upon the recommendation of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting. He is assisted
by two Deputy Secretaries-General who are appointed by ASEAN Member States by rotation.
The ASEAN Secretariat is located in
Jakarta, Indonesia. It has four Bureaus, namely, the AFTA Bureau, and the Bureau of ASEAN
Cooperation and External Relations. The Secretariat Staff consists of Openly-Recruited
Staff (Bureau Directors, Assistant Directors, and Senior Officers) and the Locally
ASEAN Dialogue Partners and Third
ASEAN has institued a system of dialogue
relations with countries outside the Southeast Asian region. The first formal dialogue
partnership was established with Australia in 1974, followed by New Zealand in 1975, Japan
and the United States in 1977, the European Union if 1980, Canada in 1981, Republic of
Korea in 1991, India in 1995, and China and Russia in 1996. The Foreign Minsters of these
Dialogue Partners meet with the ASEAN Foreign Ministers during the Post-Ministerial
Conferences (PMC) after each ASEAN Ministerial Meeting. The U.N. Development Program is
also considered a Dialogue Partner. Sectoral dialogue relations were established with
Pakistan in 1997. Both UNDP and Pakistan do not participate in the PMC.
ASEAN Regional Forum
The ASEAN Regional Forum was established in
1994 by ASEAN to sustain and enhance peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. It
now consists of all ASEAN member countries, all Dialogue Partners (except UNDP and
Pakistan), Papua New Guinea and Mongolia.
ASEAN Third Country Committees
To facilitate closer coordination ASEAN
with Dialogue Partners, ASEAN Third Country Committees have been established in the
capitals of all Dialogue Partners as well as in Bonn, Geneva, London and Paris.
ASEAN Relations with
Other Regional Groupings
ASEAN has established
linkages with other regional groupings. On the occasion of the annual session of the
United Nations General Assembly, ASEAN Foreign Ministers meet their counterparts from the
Economic Cooperation Organization, Gulf Cooperation Council, Rio Group, and South Asia
Association for Regional Cooperation.