Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as the regional organizations in Southeast Asian region has its own mechanism to solve dispute called as “ASEAN Way”. In regionalism, many experts argue that regional organization such as European Union (EU), Organizations of African Unity (OAU) and others have major role to solve a conflict within.
So, what is ASEAN Way ?
In order to understand ASEAN Way, we should understand that ASEAN has respect in sovereignty concept and the principle of non-interference. Thus, peace, until now could be maintained among the member states. In this mechanism, ASEAN adopts 4 elements to be called as ASEAN Way.
First, the non-interference principle. The Charter of ASEAN Article 2(a) and 2(b) state that all ASEAN members should respect the independence of each country and not intervening the internal affairs. This principle is also written in the UN Charter Article 2(4). As the ASEAN upholds the mutual respect, all domestic problems should be solved by its own government.
Second, the principle of quiet diplomacy. Since the ASEAN avoids major conflict among the member states which could lead to a war, the personal approach becomes one way to resolve the disputes. In simple terms, soft diplomacy becomes the first and the only thing to do if there is a conflict among the member states. In this principle, the “comfort” level is important in order to avoid the increase of the bilateral tensions.
Third, the principle of the non-use of force. No matter how bad the conflict, ASEAN member states shall never use force to resolve the conflict. Unlike the UN which the organization can do embargo and implement military intervention such as in the case of Somalia (1992) and Rwanda (1994), the ASEAN prefers to use informal approach with to prevent conflict escalation. Rather than doing humanitarian intervention or so-called military intervention when it comes to the case related to human rights abuse, the ASEAN would help with humanitarian assistance through ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance. Moreover, in the ASEAN, mutual trust is an important matter.
Fourth, the principle of decision-making through consensus. In this regional organization, each member has the same position as decision makers. Thus, there is no vote in the process. All of the issues will be discussed in the consensus in order to seek the best solution in an issue.
These elements have created the “ASEAN Way” that different with others regional organizations. Even though many experts claimed that ASEAN is too soft in some cases related with human rights, the ASEAN has successfully maintained the peace among the state members. Therefore, there is no conflict that leads to a war.
KATSUMATA, H. (2003). Reconstruction of Diplomatic Norms in Southeast Asia: The Case for Strict Adherence to the "ASEAN Way". Contemporary Southeast Asia, 25(1), 104-121. Retrieved January 20, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/25798630