Chapter 1: Evolution of ASEAN cooperation and institutional structure
On 8 August, 1967 in Bangkok, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was born. Its formation, however, and the level of commitment it requires of its members did not occur without any difficulties. It went through a painful process of transcending differences (differences in linguistic, religious, historical and economic backgrounds) and of working towards compromises. Reflecting the evolution of ASEAN cooperation is its concomitant institutional structure. Its present institutional machinery is a product, to a large extent, of the ASEAN determination to enhance ASEAN political and economic cooperation, reflecting its changing vision and objectives. Since 1967 it has gone through some modifications in an attempt to provide an institutional environment supportive of greater ASEAN cooperation. 1.1 PRE-ASEAN ORGANIZATIONS Before the formation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967, there were few attempts at developing forms of regional cooperation in response to certain political and economic events. These pre-ASEAN organizations have a pronounced bearing on ASEAN’s formation and development. 1.1.1 SEATO (1954–77) The Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) emerged out of a conference in Manila in 1954 which was held shortly after the Geneva Conference on Indochina following the victory of the Viet Minh over the French colonizers. Initiated by the US and dominated by Western powers (only the Philippines and Thailand were full members from Southeast Asia), this was part of the worldwide US-led system of anti-communist military alliances or security arrangements. SEATO elicited criticisms not only from the Soviet Union and China, but also...
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