ASEAN Charter

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the ASEAN Charter
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (orthographic projection).svg
Members of ASEAN
Signed November 20, 2007 (2007-11-20)
Location Singapore
Effective December 2008
Condition ratification by all states
Signatories 10
Parties 10 (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam)
Depositary Secretary-general of ASEAN
Language English

The ASEAN Charter is a constitution for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It was adopted at the 13th ASEAN Summit in November 2007.[1]

The intention to draft the constitution had been formally tabled at the 11th ASEAN Summit held in December 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Ten ASEAN leaders, one each from each member state, called the ASEAN Eminent Persons Group were assigned to produce recommendations of the drafting of the charter.

In the 12th ASEAN Summit held in January 2007 in Cebu, the Philippines, several basic proposals were made public. The ASEAN Leaders, therefore, agreed during the Summit to set up a "high level task force on the drafting of the ASEAN Charter" composed of 10 high level government officials from ten member countries.

The task force then held 13 meetings during 2007. Some of the proposals include the removal of non-interference policy that is central to the regional group since its formation in the 1960s, and to set up a human rights body.

The Charter[edit]

Principles set out in the charter include:

  • Emphasising the centrality of ASEAN in regional cooperation.
  • Respect for the principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty, non-interference and national identities of ASEAN members.
  • Promoting regional peace and identity, peaceful settlements of disputes through dialogue and consultation, and the renunciation of aggression.
  • Upholding international law with respect to human rights, social justice and multilateral trade.
  • Encouraging regional integration of trade.
  • Appointment of a Secretary-General and Permanent Representatives of ASEAN.
  • Establishment of a human rights body and an unresolved dispute mechanism, to be decided at ASEAN Summits.
  • Development of friendly external relations and a position with the UN (like the EU)
  • Increasing the number of ASEAN summits to twice a year and the ability to convene for emergency situations.
  • Reiterating the use of the ASEAN flag, anthem, emblem and national ASEAN day on August 8.
Member State Government Ratification Deposit of
Instrument of Ratification
Signed by
 Singapore December 18, 2007 January 7, 2008 Prime Minister
 Brunei January 31, 2008 February 15, 2008 Sultan
 Laos February 14, 2008 February 20, 2008 Prime Minister
 Malaysia February 14, 2008 February 20, 2008 Foreign Minister
 Vietnam March 14, 2008 March 19, 2008 Minister of Foreign Affairs
 Cambodia February 25, 2008[2] April 18, 2008 National Assembly
 Burma (Myanmar) July 21, 2008 July 21, 2008[3] Foreign Minister
 Philippines October 7, 2008[4] November 12, 2008[5] Senate
 Indonesia October 21, 2008[6] November 13, 2008[5] The House of Representatives
 Thailand September 16, 2008[7] November 14, 2008[5] Parliament


The Charter came into force in December 2008, thirty days after Thailand's delivery of the final instrument of ratification. Thailand's permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Don Pramudwinai, deposited the document with ASEAN secretary-general, Surin Pitsuwan, at the Thai mission in New York on November 14. He issued a statement saying, "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." He was referring to the charter coming into after the 14th Summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from December 13 to 18. In doing so he added that celebrations would follow not only for 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."[5]


On December 15, 2008, the members of ASEAN met in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta to launch a charter, signed in November 2007, with the aim of moving closer to "an EU-style community".[8] The charter turns ASEAN into a legal entity and aims to create a single free-trade area for the region encompassing 500 million people. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated: "This is a momentous development when ASEAN is consolidating, integrating and transforming itself into a community. It is achieved while ASEAN seeks a more vigorous role in Asian and global affairs at a time when the international system is experiencing a seismic shift," he added, referring to climate change and economic upheaval. Southeast Asia is no longer the bitterly divided, war-torn region it was in the 1960s and 1970s." The charter's aims included:

  1. "Respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states"
  2. "Peaceful settlement of disputes"
  3. "Non-interference in member states' internal affairs"
  4. "Right to live without external interference"[9]

However, the ongoing global financial crisis was stated as being a threat to the goals envisioned by the charter,[10] and also set forth the idea of a proposed human rights body to be discussed at a future summit in February 2009. This proposal caused controversy, as the body would not have the power to impose sanctions or punish countries who violate citizens' rights and would therefore be limited in effectiveness.[11]


  1. ^ "Indonesian ministers asked to follow up ASEAN summit results", Xinhua, November 22, 2007.
  2. ^ "Cambodian National Assembly approves ASEAN Charter". Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  3. ^ "Burma ratifies ASEAN charter | The Australian". July 22, 2008. Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  4. ^ "Philippine Senate ratifies ASEAN Charter", October 7, 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d "Malaysian National News Agency :: BERNAMA". Archived from the original on 14 January 2009. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  6. ^ "ASEAN Secretariat: ASEAN Charter fully ratified", October 21, 2008.
  7. ^ "Surin welcomes Thailand's ratification of Asean charter", September 16, 2008.
  8. ^ "'Momentous' day for ASEAN as charter comes into force". Agence France-Presse. 2008-12-15. Archived from the original on 14 January 2009. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  9. ^ Lucy Williamson (2008-12-15). "South East Asia to launch charter". BBC. Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  10. ^ Olivia Rondonuwu and Suhartono, Harry (2008-12-15). "ASEAN launches charter under shadow of crisis". Reuters. Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  11. ^ "ASEAN charter comes into force". International Herald Tribune. 2008-12-15. Archived from the original on 18 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 

External links[edit]