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In November 2007, the heads of the ten member governments of the Association of South-East
Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed a charter that will, once ratified, give the association a legal
personality. The charter, significantly, requires more of its members than a reassertion of the
traditional ASEAN norm of non-interference and the practice of consensus. The charter lists a
number of novel goals among the organization’s purposes: ‘to strengthen democracy, enhance
good governance and the rule of law, and to promote and protect human rights and fundamental
freedoms.’ In view of the wide economic and political disparities between the member states of
ASEAN, this article examines whether strengthening democracy would in fact facilitate
ASEAN’s goal of becoming an integrated political, economic and security community. Rather
than enhancing an integrated community, democratization would arguably create a faultline
between the more politically mature and economically developed states and a northern tier of
less developed, authoritarian single-party dominant regimes in South-East Asia. Moreover, given
China’s emerging political and economic importance to the region, such a strategy would, as if
by an invisible hand, draw the more authoritarian ASEAN states into China’s less than
democratic embrace. This article concludes that rather than strengthening democracy, ASEAN’s
charter needs urgently to reinforce practices of rule governance and mechanisms of market
integration to enhance both ASEAN’s economic profile as well as the region’s autonomy.

Security and Democracy: The ASEAN Charter and the Dilemmas of Regionalism in South-East
Asia | Request PDF. Available from:
harter_and_the_Dilemmas_of_Regionalism_in_South-East_Asia [accessed Aug 06 2018].