Every organization has a beginning and ASEAN is no different. The ASEAN Declaration was more or less, ASEAN's "Declaration of Independence". It said we are ASEAN and we are not alone. This is my attempt to paraphrase the ASEAN Declaration and add a bit of commentary as well. The ASEAN Declaration is also known as the Bangkok Declaration because Bangkok, Thailand, is where it was signed by it's founders.
ASEAN, which stands for the Association of South East Asian Nation, was formed August 8th, 1967 in Bangkok Thailand.
ASEAN founders, considering their Southeast Asian similarities and common problems, felt the need to strengthen their existing bonds of regional solidarity and cooperation. Regionally, this was definitively needed. Indochina was a mess as the United States and her allies were trying to eliminate the communist from Vietnam. The Vietnam War was impacting much of mainland Southeast Asia to include Cambodia, Laos and parts of Thailand.
Mistrust was in other places in ASEAN as well. For example, east of Indochina, the Philippines seem to be prospering under the highly controversial Ferdinand Marcos who was just starting out his 21 year reign as their president. The Marcos reign was filled with corruption, nepotism, despotism, political repression and human rights violations (Thanks Wiki). A bit southwest of the Philippines, Indonesia was recovering from a communist purge that took at least 500,000 lives following a failed coup by the 30 September Movement. Malaysia also was struggling with issues that would eventually turn into race riots in 1969 prior to the country prospering. Singapore also was struggling during this time period. At one point, Singapore was part of Malaysia and another point, expelled from Malaysia. Race riots also plagued this tiny island nation. On top of all of these problems in Southeast Asia, influences, such as the USA and China, were trying to pull the local Southeast Asian government's policies in various different directions.
ASEAN would need to create an environment with which ASEAN members could respond to issues impacting the region. While they dreamed about it in 1967, it finally became reality with the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II on October 7th, 2003. The ASEAN Political Security Community (APSC), The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the ASEAN Social Cultural Community (ASCC) were conceptualized and agreed upon by all 10 ASEAN nations (Source). Up to this point, there was working going on dealing with issues specific to the 3 communities, but it wasn't grouped under the community system as it does in the APSC, AEC and ASCC. This gave structure to ASEAN.
However, it's one thing to agree and it's another thing to do what you are agreeing to. So in 2007 and 2008, ASEAN Blueprints for the APSC, AEC, and the ASCC were released which listed the specific objectives ASEAN wants to achieve in it's integration process. Each blue print can be found on the ASEAN website under their respective community; however, to save time looking for it, you can link to it here: APSC, AEC, ASCC. I'll go more into detail on each community later.
ASEAN realized their cherished ideals of peace, freedom, social justice and economic well-being are best obtained by creating an atmosphere of understanding, good neighborliness and meaningful cooperation among the countries that are already bound together by history and similar culture. They understood that each country share in the responsibility to strengthen the economic and social stability of the region to ensure peace and their own national development. In addition, ASEAN member states will be on guard to protect the region from any form of external influences that threaten the stability and security in order to preserve their national identities in accordance with the ideals and aspiration of their peoples. (Ok, this part I more or less copied from the ASEAN declaration)
Anyway, that ends Part 1 of the ASEAN Declaration. In part 2 I will look at their "declarations!"
To get a heads up on the declarations, feel free to read the ASEAN Declaration for yourself from the ASEAN website here.
Thanks for reading.