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Indonesia Makes ASEAN a Tough Regional Organization


By Pandu Wibowo

ASEAN or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a cooperative organization between Southeast Asian countries. ASEAN was founded in Bangkok on August 8, 1967. Its formation was initiated by five countries, namely Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. The signing of the Bangkok Declaration became the basis for the founding of ASEAN. The background behind the founding of ASEAN was the strong will of the founders to create a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous Southeast Asian region.

The desire of the founders of ASEAN to continue to create stability in the ASEAN region currently faces quite tough challenges due to the various complex problems in the world today. This year, Indonesia is entrusted with becoming the chair of ASEAN in 2023 after previously holding the chairmanship of ASEAN four times.

At this year’s ASEAN Chair, Indonesia has a heavy burden to be able to maintain ASEAN’s dignity as a regional organization that is resilient in facing various challenges so that ASEAN can still be reckoned with internationally.

We certainly hope that Indonesia’s chairmanship in 2023 will be able to turn ASEAN into a regional organization that is resilient and remains relevant in facing various international challenges and problems for the next 20 years. More importantly, we also hope that Indonesia can bring ASEAN down to earth and provide benefits for its people.

For this reason, it is hoped that the 2023 ASEAN Summit will become a milestone in ensuring that future ASEAN cooperation can further enhance joint efforts in making ASEAN a more adaptive, responsive and competitive organization by participating in upholding international law and maintaining its unity.

Indonesia has shown its commitment to support this realization. At least it can be observed from the handling of issues in the Indo-Pacific which is the arena for big country competition, Indonesia has led the formation of the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) which was adopted by ASEAN in 2019 as an affirmation of ASEAN’s centrality.

It is necessary to strengthen ASEAN’s affirmation and centrality by building rules of the game for the interaction of outside countries in the Southeast Asia and Indo-Pacific region based on the principles of cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, transparency, respect for international law, and mutual trust and respect for one another. each other.

We certainly hope that at the 2023 ASEAN Summit this year, under the chairmanship of Indonesia, we can continue to produce concrete formulations at the level of implementation and operationalization of the AOIP, bearing in mind that the Indo-Pacific is a very strategic region, so that the resulting formulations can be comprehensive in terms of security, economic and development so that creative economic activities, business and investment digital economy, and infrastructure and others can support sustainable development.

In addition, Indonesia also brought an agenda to resume negotiations on the establishment of a code of conduct (CoC) for parties to disputes in the South China Sea. The establishment of the CoC is a mandate from the Declaration of Conduct (DoC) which was agreed upon by ASEAN and China at the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh in 2002.

After several years of hiatus, Indonesia’s initiative to carry out discussions and negotiations on the CoC during its chairmanship period is crucial given that tensions in the South China Sea are increasing, requiring the involvement of various parties to promote peace and stability in the region.

Equally important are Indonesia’s efforts to address the Myanmar issue which has a direct impact on regional stability. Under its chairmanship, Indonesia pushed for the implementation of a 5- point consensus or 5-point agreement of ASEAN leaders which became ASEAN’s main mechanism in addressing issues or developments in Myanmar.

Of course, Indonesia’s chairmanship must be able to strengthen agreements so as to prove the effectiveness of ASEAN institutions in overcoming its own internal issues. This is important to maintain ASEAN’s confidence and prove ASEAN’s credibility in maintaining regional and world stability.

With agreed agendas, ASEAN countries under Indonesia’s chairmanship must be able to strive for stability, security and peace in the region so that they can create growth that benefits society, the region and the world.

*) The author is an Observer (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) PERBARA Institute

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