ASEAN Outlook On The Indo-Pacific – A Review
The ASEAN recently published an Outlook on the Indo Pacific – here is a review of the same.
One of the dynamic, as well as the fulcrum of economic growth, is the regions of Asia-pacific and the Indian Ocean. The ongoing tussle between competing interests as a result of strategic and geopolitical shifts accentuates the centrality of ASEAN.
The initiative taken in this direction by the ASEAN leaders is being referred to as the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo Pacific. The initiative emphasizes that the grouping seeks to reinforce the central character in the expanding regional framework in the Southeast Asia region and the neighbouring areas.
It is important to note that the objective is not to create or replace an existing mechanism but to enrich ASEAN’s community-building process and strengthen and add new momentum to the existing ASEAN-led mechanisms. This will provide a better platform to mechanisms like the East Asia Summit to deal with challenges and seize opportunities for enhanced regional co-operation. The underlying principle for promoting cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region conceits ASEAN centrality.
The outlook then talks about the objectives of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific such as to promote cooperation, confidence and trust in the region; to enable an environment of peace, and stability in the region; strengthen the existing regional mechanism and exploring other ASEAN priority areas of co-operation.
This initiative is further based on the principles of inclusivity, openness, ASEAN centrality, transparency, rules-based framework, respect for international law and commitment to good governance for effective cooperation.
In order to achieve these goals and principles, the ASEAN Outlook would be administered by the norms of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, for peaceful settlement of disputes, repudiation of the use or threat of force and the advancement of rule of law to sustain the peace and cooperation among the member countries.
The outlook further highlights the four major areas of cooperation for engaging with other countries in the region – maritime cooperation, connectivity, UN Sustainable development goals 2030 and economic development. The geopolitical challenges are no longer confined to the land and aerial space but have reached the depths of the sea waters as well. The unsettled maritime disputes, untenable exploitation of maritime resources and maritime pollution have become a major source of the problem and open conflict in the region.
Therefore, a comprehensive and peaceful way is needed to manage and resolve these issues. The initiative also aims to achieve a greater sense of extensively connected and incorporated community that will advance competitiveness and inclusivity. The Sustainable Development Goals are in tune with the broader EAS vision and that of the ASEAN Community Vision of 2025.
The ASEAN initiative intends to utilize the digital economy, promote cooperation with the relevant regional institutions like Centre for Development Studies and Cooperation and enhance and align the regional development agendas with that of the SDGs. Lastly, the initiative lays out various areas of cooperation with the member countries such as South-South Cooperation, Science and Technology, Climate Change, trade facilitation and infrastructure, micro, small and medium enterprises and so on. Thus, the ASEAN Outlooks perceives the potential for cooperation with regional mechanisms based on mutual interests through strategic discussions, collective practical activities and inter-disciplinary approaches.
Source – ASEAN Outlook on the Indo Pacific at https://asean.org/storage/2019/06/ASEAN-Outlook-on-the-Indo-Pacific_FINAL_22062019.pdf