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When ASEAN was created, the regional environment was dominated by conflict and the region was under the shadow of the Cold War. Today a high relatively high degree of political stability has been achieved and traditional conflicts have been reduced significantly. Relatively stable economic growth rates in all ASEAN Member are another important indicator for the socioeconomic development of the region.
It cannot be rated high enough that countries with such diverse historic developments and different political systems and economic performances opted to engage in a regional integration process. Nevertheless, despite a successful political stabilization of the ASEAN Community over the last decades and significant economic development ASEAN still faces political, security, economic, social and environmental challenges.
Although traditional and bilateral security threats have been mainly solved peacefully after they erupted, regional security issues like the conflict in the South China Sea dominate the ASEAN and regional security agendas these days. Close and trustful cooperation with regional partners such as China will be crucial for ASEAN to help finding a peaceful solution to the pending conflict.
The historical conflict on the Korean Peninsula is another permanent threat to the ASEAN region. ASEAN plays a pivotal role in influencing all Parties to restrain from giving any statements that could stalemate the current fragile power equilibrium.
In addition to the pending traditional security threats, defining effective response mechanisms to non-traditional security issues takes more and more space in the ASEAN cooperation frameworks. ASEAN and its Member States must continue to develop joint coherent and effective policies and concrete instruments and actions to address the multiple challenges. Beside others, there must be a coherent regional strategy to negotiate on climate adaptation funds in international negotiations. Joint Comprehensive regional response mechanism have also to be further developed to deal effectively with transnational crimes, like terrorism, human and drug trafficking as well as the risks posed by uncontrolled migration.
In terms of economic integration ASEAN has an important role to further promote competition through trade facilitation and intra/extra ASEAN trade. For the future, ASEAN will need a comprehensive regional economic integration policy framework to find the right balance of further trade liberalization and economic integration. It is still a matter of fact that most trade facilitation and liberalization programs are financed by external actors and the political will of ASEAN leaders seems still to be limited to claim financial ownership on the political and economic integration project.
ASEAN consists of Member States with a high variety of economic strength and wealth. There is still a huge gap between the rich and the poor ASEAN countries, but no common strategy and policy to close the gap between the rich and the poor countries. Social cohesion policies, as they are implemented in Europe, are lacking and social imbalances arising from rapid trade liberalization are not properly taken into consideration. The masterplan for connectivity is an important first attempt to physically connect the economic hubs in ASEAN countries. The key aim is to reduce transaction costs for trade through improved infrastructure.
ASEAN’s citizens still know too little about the ASEAN project and the ASEAN integration process needs more communication and benefits for citizens must be more tangible.
As a social cultural community, ASEAN needs citizens who are well represented at the supranational level and who identify with the ASEAN project. As long as the benefits of the integration process are clearly explained and new opportunities are created to increase people-to-people contact through joint education, youth exchange programs and cultural programs, ASEAN will be supported by its citizens.
The International Relations Institute of Cambodia (IRIC) in cooperation with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Cambodia Office) and Monash University in Malaysia, will organize an Academic Forum on “ASEAN: One community, one destiny- 4 years After the Enforcement OF the ASEAN Charter” on 26th November 2012 in Phnom Penh. The forum will encourage debate and dialogue between politicians, national and international scholars, representatives of Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders, to identify key achievements and remaining challenges for ASEAN in all three pillars of the ASEAN Community Building Process, and to present general policy recommendations which are the result of a 03 days Training Workshop organized by IRIC and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Cooperation with Monash University Malaysia, for all three ASEAN pillar policy makers in Cambodia and ASEAN.
KEY OBJECTIVE OF THE FORUM
The forum’s key objective is to review the achievements and challenges ASEAN has faced since the adoption of the ASEAN Charter in terms of political, institutional and financial developments. The forum will further elaborate on the challenges and prospects of the ASEAN integration process under the three key pillars.
SESSIONS OF THE FORUM
The Forum will be divided into three sessions of deliberation and started with an opening session in which High Representative of ASEAN Secretariat will deliver a key note on “4 Years after the Proclamation of the ASEAN Charter –Achievements and Challenges for the ASEAN Regional Integration Process”.
Panelists in all three sessions will look at the overall progress made and challenges ahead since the ASEAN Charter since it came into force to strengthen cooperation in all three key pillars of ASEAN integration process.
PANELS OF THE FORUM
4 years of ASEAN Charter –Achievements and Challenges
The ASEAN Charter entered into force on 15 December 2008 and it is a legally binding agreement among the ten Member States. The Charter provides the legal and institutional framework for ASEAN to be rules based, people-oriented organization paving the way for the realization of the ASEAN Community.
The ASEAN Charter defines it as a legal entity and inter-governmental organization that has authority over its members. Underlying the move towards unity and integration is its new motto: “one vision, one identity, one community.”
The Charter strengthens the authority of the ASEAN Summit as the highest decision-making body. A strengthened ASEAN Secretariat plays an important role to exemplify Member State’s commitment for a more systematic and rules based building of the ASEAN Community.
The two key note speakers will present the topic from the Member State and the ASEAN perspective and will politically analyze the ASEAN integration process since the ASEAN Charter came into force.
Session 1: ASEAN Political and Security Community
Panelist in Panel I shall focus on the overall security situation (traditional and non-traditional) in ASEAN and its neighborhood and their implications for regional security. Panelist shall identify political, institutional and financial options to effectively respond to the diverse security challenges and develop policy recommendations for the further and future cooperation and integration of ASEAN under the first pillar.
Session 2: ASEAN Economic Community
Panelists in Panel II shall focus on the vision of the long term economic integration process in ASEAN. They shall identify key areas of regional economic integration processes and analyze and assess the benefits and costs of current ASEAN economic policies and their overall impact on wealth and job creation in ASEAN Member States. Presentations will also focus on the effects of free movement of labor (in selected professions) on the goods, labor and capital markets of ASEAN Member States.
Session 3: ASEAN Socio-cultural Community
The ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community seeks to build a community of caring and sharing societies in ASEAN, one that recognizes and builds upon its rich socio-cultural diversity, redresses social problems of its citizens, including poverty, illiteracy, gender inequality and crime. The panelists will discuss on how to bring ASEAN closer to the citizens. The representation through effective regional parliamentary system as well as through strong consultation and involvement of Civil Society Organizations are perquisites for a people-to-people oriented ASEAN community. Beside institutional reforms concrete, visible cooperation in the education and the cultural sector will illustrate how ASEAN can offer tangible opportunities for the young generation and how knowledge on the rich socio cultural heritage can be shared.
PARTICIPANTS OF THE FORUM
The Academic Forum on “ASEAN: One community, one destiny- 4 years After the Enforcement OF the ASEAN Charter” will bring together about selected 120 participants as following:
Members of the National Assembly and the Senate of Cambodia,
Members of the Royal Government of Cambodia,
Representatives of the Royal Government ministries in charge for ASEAN related questions,
Diplomatic corps in Cambodia,
Delegates from provincial and municipal authorities,
Selected national and international scholars
Representatives of all political parties in Cambodia
Representatives of National and international organizations/ institutions and the private sector investing in the Kingdom of Cambodia,
Representatives of Civil Society Organizations and the Media.