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ASEAN Summit in Indonesia Momentum to Restore ASEAN Centrality


By : Bagas Adrian Nathaniel )*

Indonesia will host the 2023 ASEAN Summit. This event will be the right momentum to restore ASEAN’s centrality. All ASEAN members must obey the rules and carry out the consensus as agreed.

ASEAN (Association of South East Asia Nation) is an economic and political union of 10 countries in Southeast Asia which was founded on August 8, 1967 in Thailand. Indonesia is an active member of ASEAN, apart from Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and Timor Leste.

Indonesia will become Chair of ASEAN in 2023, this event will be held in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) in May 2023. The ASEAN Summit will be put to good use in order to restore ASEAN’s centrality.

Gadjah Mada University Yogyakarta International Relations (HI) expert, Randy Wirasta Nandyatama, Ph.D. stated that as chair of ASEAN Indonesia wanted to restore the centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to return to being a forum for resolving regional problems.

Randy continued, Indonesia wanted to restore ASEAN’s centrality at the 42nd ASEAN Summit or ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara on 9-11 May 2023. It was realized that ASEAN’s centrality was starting to fade.

ASEAN centrality claims can occur, one of which is by encouraging or taking further steps regarding the resolution of the South China Sea conflict. This is because in recent times ASEAN has been considered less respected.

In that sense, ASEAN should be the arbiter of the South China Sea (LCS) conflict. When there is an agreement, it must be respected and there are no subsequent conflicts. However, China and other countries claim each other and continue to fight protractedly, so there is no middle point. 

In the ASEAN Summit later, Indonesia wants to encourage or take further steps regarding the resolution of the LCS conflict. Indonesia can be a facilitator for the settlement of the South China Sea.

Randy added, ASEAN’s centrality faded because of the influence of 2  super power  countries in the world, namely China and the United States. If we look at it technically, other countries that used to always use the ASEAN forum to communicate with each other, now another forum appears, cooperation outside ASEAN. 

ASEAN must be able to demonstrate its ability as a forum to resolve regional issues. The implication is that Indonesia wants to push for  the Code of Conduct (COC)  or  the Declaration on the Conduct of Partners in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, ASEAN must also play a role in reconciling the conflict in Myanmar. Moreover, Myanmar is an active ASEAN member country. Indonesia needs to be active in resolving the crisis in Myanmar. This is because so far ASEAN has been considered a comfortable and effective forum for everyone.

Everywhere there are many who say that regarding Myanmar, it is ASEAN that must play a role. ASEAN has done that by making  five points of consensus .

It has been 2 years now that the people of Myanmar have suffered from the cruelty of the Junta. There have been many victims from civilians, some have even lost their lives. When the leader of the Myanmar Junta was coming to Indonesia for the 2023 ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo, President Jokowi had diplomacy with him. The main goal is to urge an end to violence, for the sake of peace in Myanmar.

At the 2021 ASEAN Summit, it was agreed that five ASEAN Consensus Points on Myanmar were agreed. First, violence must stop immediately in Myanmar and all parties must exercise complete restraint. Second, a constructive dialogue between all relevant parties must begin immediately to find a peaceful solution for the interests of the people. 

Third, the special envoy of the Chair of ASEAN will facilitate the mediation of the dialogue process, with the assistance of the Secretary General of ASEAN. Fourth, ASEAN will provide humanitarian assistance through the AHA Center ( The ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management ). Fifth, special envoys and delegations will visit Myanmar to meet with all relevant parties.

During a meeting with Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong, President Jokowi stated that Singapore and Indonesia both regretted the lack of progress in implementing the ASEAN Five Consensus Points in Myanmar. Singapore will continue to work with Indonesia, ASEAN members and ASEAN partners such as the UN to push for the implementation of the Five Points of Consensus.

When the ASEAN Consensus is violated even though there was an agreement 2 years earlier, it is very unfortunate. Indonesia and Singapore are working together so that the situation in Myanmar improves and there will be no more riots that harm civilians. Southeast Asia must be peaceful and there should be no wars between countries or internal conflicts.

The cruelty of the junta made President Jokowi nervous. During the 2023 ASEAN Summit in May 2023 in Jakarta, President Jokowi tried to pressure the junta leader, Min Aung Hlaing, to stop the violence in Myanmar, so that there would be no more victims. President Jokowi also thought about the safety and psychological factors of Myanmar citizens, so that they would not be pressured by the junta.

The 2023 ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo is the right moment to restore ASEAN’s centrality. Countries outside Southeast Asia must respect ASEAN as an international organization. ASEAN also plays an important role in realizing peace in Myanmar.

)* The author is a Kawiwara Pustaka Contributor

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