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Achievements of the 21st ASEAN Summit

SINGAPORE, 20 Dec 2012 (ISEAS Perspective) – The 21st ASEAN Summit was held in Phnom Penh, from 17 to 20 November 2012. I have not come across any balanced assessment of the achievements and shortcomings of the Summit. Several reports in the popular media have focused on one or two issues, such as, the disagreement over the sentence in the Chairman’s closing statement that there was an ASEAN consensus not to internationalise the South China Sea issue. In this essay, I wish to summarise what I consider to have been the most important achievements of the Summit as well as to indicate what ASEAN’s main challenges are.

Laos’ Herculean Effort to Join the WTO

GENEVA, Apr 30 2012 (IPS) – After almost a decade of major economic transformation, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is on the brink of World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership. But the small country’s Herculean effort to join the exclusive trade club is a reminder to the ten other least developed countries (LDCs) now seeking membership of the cumbersome process involved.

Nothing Less Than International Standards

Sixty-three human rights groups in South-east Asia have issued an open letter to the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, expressing their call that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration “will not be lower than international human rights norms and standards”. The draft declaration, the subject of criticism by rights groups who say it is too weak, is set to be adopted at the ASEAN summit in November 2012. The text of the open letter follows.

ASEAN Turns 45 In Precarious Times

BANGKOK, Aug 10 (Bangkok Post) – For the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, turning 45 is hard to do. Its perennial and cliched crossroads may soon become a precipice unless remedial collective action among the group is taken to repair recent setbacks ahead of its summit in November.

A Frustrating ASEAN Summit

BANGKOK, Apr 9 (Bangkok Post) – To say that last week’s summit of the Association of Southeast Nations was disappointing is an understatement. Not too much was expected when the 10 presidents and prime ministers met in Phnom Penh. But even less was actually achieved.

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