Annals of the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Economics, History and Political Science

The Annals is a forum for the free exchange of ideas
among scholars working in the field of social sciences
Volume LIV 2 - 2020

ASEAN’s Position as the Driver’s Seat and Regional Integration/Cooperation in Asia-Pacific

Silvia Menegazzi,
pp. 75-94
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This paper assesses to what extent the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plays the ‘driver’s seat’ role vis-à-vis regional integration/cooperation in the Asia-Pacific area. ASEAN was established in 1967 with the aim to form an anti-Communist bloc by uniting neighbouring countries together. In the course of the years ASEAN readjusted itself and it became a driving force for regional integration in the Asia-Pacific thanks to the establishment of different ASEAN-led initiatives, from the ASEAN Plus Three in 1997 to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2012. Over the last decades, scholars have debated how regional organizations should be studied in world politics, and to what extent ideational factors rather than simple material interests matter. Some suggested that in the case of ASEAN, specific cultural elements such as consultation among member states and decision-making based on consensus, that is the so-called ‘ASEAN Way’, would explain ASEAN’s success and its capacity to lead the regional cooperation process in Asia-Pacific. This perspective is however challenged externally by the great powers game in the region and especially China’s growing assertiveness, as well as, internally, by ASEAN’s capacity to deal with the evolving security context constrained by the interests of the individual states within the region.