50 Years of ASEAN

50 Years of ASEAN

ACSC/APF Mobilization

The eleven-year experience of engagement with the official ASEAN process has taught civil society movements in Southeast Asia valuable lessons that should guide its future trajectories. Disappointment, rejection, and disillusionment should now be a thing of the past and chalked up to experience. The real challenge facing ACSC/APF today lies from outside and beyond the established ASEAN process. 


China's increasing presence, from economic to military links, is leading to a potential emergence of Chinese spheres of influence in which Southeast Asia will be regarded as China‘s backyard. To many observers, China‘s regional leadership constitutes an irresistible outcome of China‘s remarkable economic performances and influence. Although the strategic options of smaller powers are limited, ASEAN’s strategies towards great powers show that smaller powers still have a diverse menu of strategic options to choose from, depending on which is most effective in meeting its short- and long-term needs.


Obtaining ASEAN membership has been one of Timor-Leste’s foreign policy goals since 2002.  This article discusses the current dynamic in Timor-Leste and what it means to be an ASEAN member. This is based on the domestic context that shapes Timor’s interests. Many commentators have taken a position in advocating for Timor’s membership based on short-sighted policies. At the same time, ASEAN continues to argue that Timor "does not have the capacity”. This article goes further by asking how Timor-Leste can benefit from this membership and what the necessary conditions are for Timor to do so.

Traditional Farm House in Myanmar

Organic food production is still a niche market in ASEAN countries, yet one on the rise. Health and ecological concerns have brought sustainable farming methods including small-scale and organic farming back to the table. This article takes a look at new strategies of sustainable food production in ASEAN with perspectives from Thailand, Myanmar, and Singapore.


The romance between ASEAN citizens and social media lives on. Social media continues to shape a more integrated and digitally savvy regional community. It has proven that its people have set limitations due to geographical borders, customary social divides, economic status and perhaps national laws and policies. At 50, ASEAN and its member states must admit that social media is not just here to stay, but is and will remain a dynamic force to be reckoned with.


The Indonesian case of homophobia (or even some other ASEAN countries) reveals that homosexuality issues are more complex and are more than just moral or immoral debates; they are about national reactions to the rapid transmission of global discourse, the dynamic of movements and counter-movements in democracy, and also the state’s multifaceted representation which place sexuality as a political issue of our contemporary time.


2017 is a particularly critical year for ASEAN as it celebrates its 50th anniversary; it is timely for the Southeast Asia to prove itself as a region that emphasizes putting ASEAN’s people first. Such recognition of civil society, not as a threat, but as an important ally in ensuring the realisation of human rights for all Asean citizens is critical to the development of a sustainable ASEAN Community.


This article seeks to discuss how ASEAN could ensure their regional integration efforts would be truly “inclusive” and that will guarantee better future for forced migrant population in the region. In doing so, this article discusses what the ASEAN and its member states committed in the past.


As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of ASEAN, and weigh its achievements – of which I believe there are many – the question arises as to whether a sense of common ASEAN identity will emerge among the citizens of the respective nation-states of Southeast Asia.


Farish A. Noor

Associate Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Khoo Ying Hooi

Senior Lecturer at the Department of International and Strategic Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya

Joel Mark Baysa Barredo

Programme Manager for Research at SHAPE-SEA

Judith Bopp

Postdoctoral researcher at Indo-German Centre for Sustainability IIT Madras

Truong-Minh Vu

Director of Center for International Studies, University of Social Sciences Humanities, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Visiting Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore

Andika Ab. Wahab

Independent Researcher
Hendri Yulius

Hendri Yulius

Researcher of Gender and Sexuality Studies

Jose Santos P. Ardivilla

Assistant Professor at the Department of Visual Communication of the University of the Philippines Diliman

Guteriano Neves

Independent Researcher and Postgraduate Student at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University.

Eduardo C. Tadem

Professorial Lecturer in Asian Studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman and Co-convenor of the Philippine National Organizing Committee of ACSC/APF 2017