ASEAN Primert

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ASEAN Structure
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.

ASEAN Membership

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 the Environment.

Secretary-General of ASEAN and the ASEAN Secretariat

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 Recrruited-Staff.

ASEAN Dialogue Partners and Third Country Committees

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.