The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has long been based on the principle of national sovereignty, including a norm against interference by one member state in another's domestic affairs. But some members would like to set aside the prohibition in cases such as Myanmar, whose military junta continues to repress Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy to the detriment of ASEAN's image in the West. Opposed to this view are the group's newest, poorer, more continental, and politically more closed members: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and of course Myanmar itself. They want ASEAN to uphold national sovereignty and reaffirm non-interference. The prospect of Myanmar assuming the chair of ASEAN in 2006-2007 makes this controversery even more acute. Is ASEAN splitting up? Will a compromise be reached? And with what implications for the nature and future of ASEAN and its conservative faction?
Carlyle A. Thayer is the 2004-2005 C. V. Starr Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC. He has written and lectured widely on Southeast Asian affairs. He has held positions at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (in Hawaii) and the Australian Defence College. His degrees are from the Australian National University (PhD), Yale University (MA), and Brown University (BA).
This is the 10th seminar of the 2004-2005 academic year hosted by the Southeast Asia Forum.