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A crucial test for Asean

Re: "Key players holding Asean hostage!", Opinion, July 16.



Kavi Chongkittavorn offers a very interesting analysis in in his informative article about the recent 45th Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh. Indeed, in the past Asean spoke with one voice. From now on, all hell can break loose, to use the writer's exact terminology.

The article generates one fundamental question: what next?

From an academic perspective all future diplomatic efforts should be concentrated on giving tangibility to the legal commitments already binding all Asean and non-Asean countries mentioned in the article.

The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia of February 24, 1976 specifically stipulates in Article 1 that its purpose is to promote perpetual peace, everlasting amity and cooperation among their peoples which would contribute to their strength, solidarity and closer relationship.

By Article 13 all its parties commit themselves that in case disputes among them should arise, they shall refrain from the threat or use of force and shall settle such disputes among themselves through friendly negotiations.

Kavi Chongkittavorn's article brings persuasive evidence of a sad reality: there is no solidarity among Asean members in our world characterised by global perplexities and vulnerabilities at the planetary level. In this context, a topical document comes to mind. It is the "Bangkok Declaration: Global Dialogue and Dynamic Engagement", adopted by consensus by the member states of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), including all Asean and non-Asean countries. The Declaration says that solidarity and a strong sense of moral responsibility must be the guiding light of national and international policy. They are not only ethical imperatives but also prerequisites for a prosperous, peaceful and secure world based on true partnership.

Acting together in a spirit of authentic solidarity remains a crucial test which has to be passed both by all Asean countries and their partners and friends in the years to come.

Ioan Voicu

Bangkok




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