Indonesia and ASEAN: limited prospects for greater multilateralism

International relations Diplomacy Treaties ASEAN Southeast Asia Indonesia

ASEAN's member states are a long way from achieving the ambitious goal of an 'ASEAN Community' and 2015 is likely to be a key milestone in the development of the project.


The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plays an integral role in the politics of South-East Asia. Over the last 48 years the organisation has, generally speaking, helped to maintain stability and cordial relations between regional states. Members have expressed a desire, some more strongly than others, to construct a more powerful and cohesive ASEAN. The end of 2015 was set as the point at which an ASEAN Community was to be established. As this paper will demonstrate, however, the member states are still a long way from achieving this ambitious goal and 2015 is more likely to be a key milestone in the development of the project.

Key points

  • ASEAN plans to reform itself into a closer economic, political, security and cultural identity, to be known as the ASEAN Community.
  • Due to the organisation’s strong norms and values, which make it highly resistant to change, it will be difficult for the region to implement meaningful community-building measures.
  • While tariffs have been lowered and governments appear to be in favour of establishing a regional peacekeeping force, these efforts, on their own, have little chance of contributing to a closer-knit multilateral body.
  • Indonesian involvement will be vital if the ASEAN Community is to come into being, but President Widodo appears to be unwilling to provide the leadership ASEAN requires to achieve closer integration.
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