ASEAN’s Political-Security Community to Initiate Stabilisation of the Region

    Posted On 16 Apr 2015 | By : Eriz Ageng Wicaksono

    Jakarta – The past decade has seen a major breakthrough for the ASEAN nations. The region may currently be enjoying a positive charge forward, yet the question of stabilizing the whole region remains unanswered.

    Lately intra-regional conflicts among ASEAN nations are intensifying, and if not dealt delicately, may introduce turmoil into a region that is pushing towards a unity.

        “Although economy is what drives a nation forward, the key to a region’s growth lies on its political stability.”

    In 2015, the region is eyeing its first ever concrete integration through its ASEAN Community program. Despite the upcoming unity being most well known only by its Economic Community, the integration, due on 31 December 2015 is not just about the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The community handles three main pillars, the AEC being the most well-known among them, overshadowing the Socio-cultural Community, and the Political-Security Community.

    Although economy is what drives a nation forward, the key to a region’s growth lies on its political stability. South East Asia remains one of the fastest in terms of economic growth, but is has not been the most stable. To take the next step forward, the region needs to be at least politically steady, even when it clearly is inevitable for a region to have its own disputes. A set of different perspectives, different historical accounts, and different agenda certainly brings about arguments.

    ASEAN Political-Security Community

    The ASEAN Political-Security Community does include a wide range of agenda, starting from promoting good governance, combatting corruption, protecting human rights, to very specific matters such as ensuring the South East Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone and the South China Sea stability.

    To be able to address these issues, clearly the community needs to possess both power and authority. ASEAN itself has been widely known as a “talking shop”, with no concrete decisions arising from the discussion.

    ASEAN has multiple times declared that they are not a security and military alliance and has thus rejected notions of having a regional peacekeeping force. They have no intentions of becoming the ASEAN NATO and have designed themselves as a political and economic organization. That being said, it seems the grouping is now heading towards a security alliance, to promote peace and stability.

    The Creation of an ASEAN Peacekeeping Force that can be deployed to assist dispute settlements has been in talks. Military defence and security cooperation among ASEAN nations is nothing new, members has made joint cooperation in forms of military exercises or by providing military assistance in times of crisis.

    Some would argue that given the economic disparity among members, in addition to an imbalance in both power and size of military forces, multilateral military operations has less benefits for the more sophisticated members. Only a handful of exercises has even been deemed a success. The Malacca Straits Patrol (MSP), the select few, is one example of a coordinated multilateral military cooperation, and has been successful since its establishment on 2004, reducing piracy incidents off the Straits of Malacca.

    ASEAN Security Council

    Prior to setting up an ASEAN Peacekeeping Force, the region may see itself establish an ASEAN Security Council. The council, a miniature version of the United Nation’s Security Council, will burden the responsibilities of regional peace and security.

    With or without a peacekeeping force, it will measure threats to peace and suggest countermeasures. When disputes come to matter, the council will become a mediator, in between the conflicting parties to ensure settlements by peaceful means are reached. Sanctions will be able to be placed to misbehaving nations and if a peacekeeping force is available at their disposal, military power may be deployed in times of need.

    The due date of the so-called ASEAN integration is nearing. And though the one making the headlines is its AEC, we should not forget that this is only one out of the three pillars.

    The ASEAN Political Security Community is the right step forward. It may not guarantee much other than what the ASEAN charter have declared over a decade ago, but it should be a good step forward towards the ASEAN dream of peace and stability. As for now, 31 December 2015 should be a date to mark in the calendar.

    About Eriz Ageng Wicaksono
    Eriz Ageng Wicaksono is a freelance writer currently pursuing his M.Si degree in European Studies at the University of Indonesia