The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries, namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.  Brunei Darussalam joined on 8 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999.

As of 2006, the ASEAN region has a population of about 560 million, a total area of 4.5 million square kilometers, a combined gross domestic product of almost US$ 1,100 billion, and a total trade of about US$ 1,400 billion.
The ASEAN Declaration states that the aims and purposes of the Association are: (1) to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and (2) to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
By the 21st century, ASEAN agreed to develop an integrated region by building a community of the Southeast Asia countries that is outward-looking, peaceful, stable and prosperous, caring, bound together in a dynamic partnership by the year 2020. This vision is set forth in the ASEAN Vision 2020 in Kuala Lumpur in 1997. To realize this vision, ASEAN endorsed the Bali Concord II at the 9th Summit of ASEAN in Bali in 2003 which approved the establishment of the ASEAN Community, and the targets will be accelerated into 2015.
To make ASEAN as an association that has rules-based and legal personality, the ASEAN Charter was signed in 2007. After being ratified by the 10 ASEAN member countries, the Charter shall enter into force on December 15, 2008.
This cooperation is intended to built security, stability and peace, especially in the region and more broadly in the world. Cooperation in the field of politics and security politics are conducted using instruments such as Zone of Peace, Freedom And Neutrality (ZOPFAN), Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia, and Treaty on Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ).
In addition to these three policy instruments, there is also a forum of cooperation in the field of politics and security, called the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
Some of the political and security cooperation are as follows:
  • Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters / MLAT;
  • ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism / ACCT;
  • ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting / ADMM which aims to promote regional peace and stability through dialogue and cooperation in the field of defense and security;
  • Settlement of the South China Sea disputes;
  • Partnership in eradication of transnational crimes that include the eradication of terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering, smuggling and trafficking in small arms and people, pirates, internet crimes and international economic crime;
  • Cooperation in the field of law; field of immigration and consular affairs; and inter-parliamentary institutions;

Economic cooperation aimed at eliminating the economic barriers of each member states by opening the market of the member countries in creating a regional economic integration. Economic cooperation includes cooperation in the industrial sector, trade, and the establishment of free trade zones in ASEAN (AFTA).
Some of the economic cooperation are as follows:
  • ASEAN Industrial Cooperation (AICO);
  • the establishment of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) through the implementation of Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) between 5-10% per product basis, both for exports and imports to eliminate trade barriers among ASEAN countries;
  • Free Trade Agreement  (FTA);
  • Cooperation in the service sector, including cooperation in transportation and telecommunications, tourism, and finance;
  • Cooperation in the sectors of commodities and natural resources;
  • Cooperation in the sub-sectors of agriculture and forestry;
  • Cooperation in the energy and mineral sectors;
  • Cooperation in the sectors of small and medium enterprises; and
  • Cooperation in the field of development.

ASEAN functional cooperation including cooperation in the field of culture, information, education, environment, science and technology, natural disaster management, health, employment, social development, poverty reduction, women empowerment, youth, prevention and eradication of the abuse and the circulation of narcotics and drugs, improving public administration and civil service.
Some of the functional cooperation are as follows:
  • Cooperation in the field of culture, information, and education, in the form of workshops and symposium in the fields of arts and culture, the ASEAN Culture Week, ASEAN Youth Camp, the ASEAN Quiz, the exchange of visits between ASEAN artists, exchange of news through television, broadcast news and information about ASEAN via national radios, ASEAN Student Exchange Program, and the formation of the ASEAN University Network (AUN).
  • Cooperation of rural development and poverty reduction;
  • Cooperation of health, employment, development and social welfare;
  • Cooperation in science and technology, environment and natural disasters;
  • Cooperation of human resources that includes the promotion of women, youth, prevention and eradication of the abuse and the circulation of narcotics and drugs, the management of the ASEAN Foundation, and the field of public administration and civil service.


The ASEAN Vision 2020 affirmed an outward-looking ASEAN playing a pivotal role in the international community and advancing ASEAN’s common interests. The cooperation between the Southeast and Northeast Asian countries has accelerated with the holding of an annual summit among the leaders of ASEAN, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) within the ASEAN Plus Three process. 
ASEAN Plus Three relations continue to expand and deepen in the areas of security dialogue and cooperation, transnational crime, trade and investment, environment, finance and monetary, agriculture and forestry, energy, tourism, health, labor, culture and the arts, science and technology, information and communication technology, social welfare and development, youth, and rural development and poverty eradication. There are now thirteen ministerial-level meetings under the ASEAN Plus Three process.
ASEAN continues to develop cooperative relations with its Dialogue Partners, namely, Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, the ROK, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, and the United Nations Development Programme.  ASEAN also promotes cooperation with Pakistan in some areas of mutual interest.
Consistent with its resolve to enhance cooperation with other developing regions, ASEAN maintains contact with other inter-governmental organizations, namely, the Economic Cooperation Organization, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Rio Group, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the South Pacific Forum, and through the recently established Asian-African Sub-Regional Organization Conference.
Most ASEAN Member Countries also participate actively in the activities of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and the East Asia-Latin America Forum (EALAF).