The Association of Southeast Nations and Efforts to Address Mass Atrocities: An Historical Analysis

Written by Nicolas Wicaksono

In discourses about human rights and preventing mass atrocities, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is infamous for its adherence to a norm of non-interference in the domestic affairs of member states.[1] The association was originally intended to reduce conflicts between Southeast Asian countries, most notably between Indonesia and Malaysia. Hence, the “ASEAN Way” of consensus-building and respecting each member state’s sovereign rights would reduce the likelihood of future conflict. However, commentators often find these norms problematic as they lead to ASEAN’s paralysis and inadequate responses to major humanitarian crises in the region, including episodes of mass atrocities in East Timor and Myanmar.[2] Because of this strong norm of non-interference, the conventional thinking in the literature posits that ASEAN “ has not made any progress in adopting any type of R2P [Responsibility to Protect] framework.”[3]

Paying rhetorical respect to norms, however, differs from actual practice, and it is hardly surprising that ASEAN has not always refrained from interfering in the affairs of member states. This paper thus makes two central arguments. The first is to highlight that, contrary to the literature’s consensus, there is an ASEAN approach to the long-term prevention of atrocities, but that it is subsumed under the ASEAN Way strategy for Southeast Asian security and economic development. The second argument is that this consensus weakens when ASEAN is confronted with ongoing episodes of atrocities, and that when deciding how and whether to respond, ASEAN states are often balancing a range of competing political imperatives.

This paper is divided into four sections. Section one highlights the origins of the ASEAN Way at a historical juncture when hostilities among member states were high and communism was considered an existential threat. Section two outlines ASEAN’s consensus on atrocity prevention as being embedded in the ASEAN Way. ASEAN states consider mass atrocities as stemming from more generic problems of state fragility.  Therefore, the ASEAN logic argues that ASEAN’s efforts to guarantee the economic vitality and political stability of member states already address atrocity prevention, albeit indirectly. Section three demonstrates that, for contemporaneous atrocity crises, where there is more pressure to act, ASEAN’s approach has been far more ad hoc than the doctrine prescribed by the ASEAN Way. This section argues that realist politics still hinder robust responses from ASEAN. However, this section also outlines two political forces that can encourage action to address atrocities: the desire for international legitimacy and pressure from domestic groups. Section four examines ASEAN’s approach to the East Timor crisis in 1999 and argues that while there were political forces that pushed for more robust ASEAN responses, the constraining factors were more salient and reduced these impulses into “soft” intervention approaches.

ASEAN’s lack of an explicit anti-atrocity agenda remains concerning, and this paper’s findings that ASEAN does have motives for addressing atrocities and a broad-strokes approach to preventing them should not be met with complacency. Rather, they should inform reformers on where more robust and specific anti-atrocity agendas can enter existing ASEAN norms, discourses, and policy-making.

Origins of Non-Interference and the “ASEAN Way”

The ASEAN principle of non-interference is part of the association’s approach to managing intra-regional relationships, colloquially known as the “ASEAN Way.” Scholars often outline five principles that characterize the ASEAN Way: decision making through 1) dialogue, 2) consultation, and 3) consensus, 4) renouncing military confrontation as a mechanism for dispute resolution, and 5) non-interference in the domestic affairs of ASEAN states.[4] Of course, the notion of Westphalian sovereignty which the ASEAN Way implies has long admonished the interference of foreign governance in the affairs of sovereign states. However, to understand why the “ASEAN Way” has become an enduring method for promoting regional security in Southeast Asia, one needs to understand the historical circumstances surrounding ASEAN’s founding and evolution.

In August 1967, five Southeast Asian countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines – established ASEAN as a bulwark against the outbreak of conflict among these member states. Indeed, 1967 capped a tense period where inter-state wars nearly erupted on several occasions. Indonesia and Malaysia had scarcely avoided war when Indonesia refused to recognize newly-independent Malaysia and their militaries skirmished over contested territory, while Malaysia was also embroiled in heated disputes with the Philippines over the territory of Sabah. Moreover, as a small Chinese-majority island, Singapore was deeply concerned that it was encircled by Muslim-Malay neighbors who could pose a collective threat to it.[5]

To reduce the likelihood of future conflicts among these states, the founders of ASEAN sought to create a regional association through which the ambitions of the founding states could be channeled peacefully, and through which disputes can be settled satisfactorily. The primary task would be to contain Indonesia, the most populous and militarily powerful country in Southeast Asia. While ASEAN was to be under Indonesia’s de facto leadership, Indonesia would be placed “… in what amounts to a ‘hostage position’, albeit in a golden cage…it is within ASEAN that Indonesia might realize its ambitions, if any, to occupy a position of primacy. . . without recourse to confrontation.” [6] Additionally, ASEAN would also provide a degree of protection for weaker states, most notably Singapore, because membership in ASEAN meant recognition for their sovereignty and provided diplomatic channels to influence like-minded states on issues of interest. Moreover, because ASEAN states were widely heterogenous, common culture and shared history was a poor basis for a common regional identity. Hence, regionalism would have to be forged through a common understanding of procedural norms on how ASEAN states should interact, including the principle that decision-making had to be based on consensus and mutual consultation. As one scholar points out, ASEAN rests on the belief that “parties in a dispute are less likely to go to war as long as dialogue continues… and [as long as states are assured that they] would not be coerced into supporting a decision to which they have not consented.”[7] In effect, each member state had veto power.

Except for Thailand, all founding members of ASEAN had been colonial subjects of European powers. It is thus hardly surprising that preventing “external interference of any form or manifestation” became an important part of the ASEAN Way. However, as the prominent international relations scholar Amitav Acharya notes, non-interference took on exceptional salience beyond generic notions of sovereign rights because, for ASEAN’s founding members, internal threats to regime stability were as dangerous to regional security as interstate warfare.[8] In addition to reducing inter-state conflict, the importance of non-interference only makes sense in light of ASEAN’s desire to bolster the internal stability of its constituent states. By 1967, many of the founding members had encountered threats of internal communist revolt. The Indonesian military had committed genocide against suspected communists in 1965, while Singapore had attempted to merge with Malaysia to stem the rise of Singapore’s communist party. Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines also faced active communist insurgencies. Regional security would necessitate a level of cooperation, dialogue, and trust between member states, all of which presuppose recognized representatives and functioning governments within member states.  

Regime stability, then, is the cornerstone of ASEAN’s infrastructure. To that end, the non-interference aspect of the ASEAN Way often involved not criticizing the actions of member states towards their own citizens, especially when those governments confront potentially destabilizing revolts. Commentators often connect ASEAN’s adherence to non-interference as an impediment to taking actions to address atrocities, citing examples such as ASEAN’s inaction over episodes such as Thailand’s crackdown on pro-democracy activists in 1992, the East Timor violence of 1999, and recently, the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar.[9] The next section argues that adherence to regime stability has led to a consistent lack of an explicit atrocity-prevention agenda However, the following section argues that, for ongoing atrocities, adherence to the ASEAN Way has been far less consistent, and that while ASEAN’s actions to address ongoing atrocities are often lackluster, they nonetheless provide important insight into the political imperatives that prevent complete inaction.  

Preventing Atrocities  

The lack of an atrocity prevention agenda in ASEAN declarations and agency mandates is because ASEAN does not view mass atrocities as special phenomena, but merely as another symptom of regime instability. Thus, on the question of structural prevention of mass atrocities, where the stakes are much lower than those of ongoing atrocity crises, ASEAN does have a consensus. Its strategy for preventing mass atrocities is one and the same as the more general “ASEAN Way” of ensuring regional security and regime stability. It is true that there is a misconception among ASEAN leaders that R2P is nothing more than a doctrine of military intervention, and that ASEAN leaders often ignore facets of the R2P norm that emphasizes atrocity prevention, such as by implementing local capacity building initiatives and equitable economic development.[10] However, ASEAN considers itself as already covering its bases with broad strategies of regional security, thus making a specialized atrocities prevention agenda redundant. Without a doubt, this strategy is unpalatable to advocates of R2P as it provides no guidance on how ASEAN should deal with mass atrocities when they are already occurring. While the next section will discuss the latter point, it is nonetheless important to acknowledge what exists of an anti-atrocities agenda, however lackluster it may be, if only to identify where future improvements may be possible.

The founders of ASEAN designed non-interference as a framework for politically bolstering existing regimes. However, no ASEAN leader has directly articulated this logic and its potentially nefarious implications in public. Instead, they have preferred discussing a related approach to bolstering regime stability: economic development. As Caballero-Anthony points out, ASEAN’s approach to regional security is reminiscent of the “human security” paradigm that would later emerge in the security studies discourse of the 1990’s. For instance, the Indonesian notion of ketahanan nasional (national resilience) had since the mid 1960’s implied that regime security cannot be guaranteed by political or military means alone. Rather, a multidimensional approach that included increasing the viability of each constituent state’s economic, social, and cultural orders was needed.[11] However, because viability is best ensured by strong regimes even when the orders they promote lack normative appeal, ASEAN has focused on increasing these regimes’ sustainability by increasing their economic prosperity and thus their means of dealing with chaos. Far from being culturally essentialist, the notion of “Asian values” human rights, which privileges communal rights over individual rights (the community being the sovereign state),[12] is a product of the historical experiences of ASEAN states, cemented over time as an entrenched norm.

The pursuit of economic development has not been mere rhetoric, and the belief in the ASEAN model of “development before political reform” remains strong. Not only is it entrenched in ASEAN’s founding document, ASEAN as an organization and ASEAN states have all taken actions to increase economic growth and, following the 1997 Asian financial crisis, intra-regional integration.[13] For instance, soon after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the ASEAN +3 (ASEAN plus China, Japan, and Korea) established the Chiang Mai Initiative, a regional reserves exchange pool which protects its members if any one of their currency collapses.[14] Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak had even claimed that Myanmar was “starting to head back to the democratic fold” because ASEAN embraced it in 1997 and helped foster “trade, growth, and development between [Myanmar and] member states.”[15] ASEAN’s indifference towards Myanmar’s poor human rights record, Razak implies, was a necessary condition for Myanmar to develop economically.

While this broad strategy of indirectly preventing mass atrocities is woefully inadequate because its emphasis on regime stability ignores civil society dynamics which may influence the likelihood of mass atrocities. Moreover, it effectively treats abuses of human rights and atrocity crimes committed by incumbent regimes as unfortunate and temporary prices for preventing future instability. Nonetheless, the fact that ASEAN does have norms to prevent the outbreak of conflicts suggests that these norms can serve as a point of entry for more norms specially aimed at preventing atrocities. Indeed, Acharya notes that local actors often reconstruct foreign norms to be better fit “the agents’ cognitive priors and identities.”[16] For policy makers advocating for ASEAN’s adopting of more robust anti-atrocities frameworks, it is a crucial to identify existing norms and discourses to which these frameworks must be made amendable

Ongoing Atrocities: Balancing Competing Imperatives

ASEAN has built a consensus around non-interference and the ASEAN Way when it takes a long-run view of conflict prevention. However, when atrocities are being committed, the stakes are much higher than in a general discussion about long-term solutions to conflict. Public attention tends to be more firmly fixated on immediate crises than on long term trends, while the deaths and humanitarian crises caused by contemporaneous episodes of atrocities necessitate some form of prompt action. When ASEAN confronts a situation like this, adherence to the ASEAN Way weakens because ASEAN cannot simply theorize away its problems through long-term development goals. More importantly, competing political currents are brought to the forefront. Under these circumstances, while non-interference remains an important guiding principle on how ASEAN manages intra-regional relationships, it is only one of several competing political dynamics.

As a result, not all ASEAN states observe non-interference all the time. ASEAN states have used diplomatic pressure, public criticism, and acknowledgement of human rights abuses to intervene in volatile situations. For instance, when Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen launched a coup in 1997, ASEAN delayed Cambodia’s ascension into the association. By making Cambodia’s ascension contingent on the presence of a legitimate government and internal political stability, ASEAN’s action was a form of intervention into Cambodia’s internal affairs, albeit a mild one compared with other potential strategies, such as sanctions. Nonetheless, Hun Sen considered ASEAN’s non-indifferent stance to be a serious violation of ASEAN’s non-interference principle.[17] As former ASEAN secretary-general Rodolfo Severino admitted, non-interference is not absolute and is governed by pragmatic considerations.[18] A senior Singaporean official puts it more bluntly: “frankly, we have been interfering mercilessly in each other’s internal affairs for ages, from the very beginning.”[19]

Overestimating the importance of non-interference overlooks the political forces that drive ASEAN to respond to atrocities happening in the region. These drivers include the desire for international legitimization and domestic demands. However, these drivers are often restrained by the realist politics that is still prevalent in the region. Because of these competing demands, many of ASEAN’s interventions have been moderated into “soft” intervention strategies such as informal meetings, peer pressure, and public pronouncements. Not all efforts to cease atrocities are instrumental – it is certainly possible that leaders hold sincere desires to stop atrocities. Nonetheless, it is important to consider the political opportunities and restraints that determine whether such desires translate into government policy.

The point of outlining these political dynamics is not to provide point predictions on when ASEAN is more likely to respond to an episode of ongoing atrocities. That is an empirical question requiring more exhaustive fieldwork and archival research. Rather, it is to outline a fuller range of political considerations facing ASEAN states when confronting ongoing atrocities.

International Legitimization

The desire of ASEAN countries to be considered advanced countries with legitimate status in the international stage has led some to espouse more liberal models of governance and foreign policy. The key mechanism, however, is the spreading of liberal norms qua international legitimacy, not the coercion of liberal states. Occasionally, Western countries have attempted to compel ASEAN into doing more to address human rights concerns, but these efforts have largely failed.[20]

Instead, ASEAN’s voluntary concern for its international standing often creates a desire to not turn a blind eye towards atrocities. Using a sociological and institutional lens, Katsumata argues that the current “international social environment – or world culture – may define various things as elements of legitimacy as members of the community of modern states,” including national flags, functioning militaries, national airlines, and a concern for human rights.[21] Indeed, ASEAN leaders, such as former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, have clearly expressed their countries’ concern about international status, arguing that their countries need to “move up” into First World status.[22] Most post-Cold War atrocities have been confronted with at least some degree of public condemnation by “first world” states. Therefore, for ASEAN states concerned with their international standing, this has become a minimum code of conduct. In the onset of atrocities in an ASEAN state, when public attention is squarely fixed on the crisis, complete inaction undoubtedly abrogates ASEAN states’ international status.

Domestic Demands

With ongoing atrocities, domestic pressures from the local constituencies or elites also shape ASEAN states’ foreign policy decisions. In these cases, ASEAN leaders balance the need to ensure a member state’s stability with the domestic political costs of inaction.   

ASEAN’s approach towards Myanmar’s various humanitarian crises provide examples of the role of domestic pressures in cajoling national governments to intervene in some form. Some scholars have argued that the presence of liberal advocates within ASEAN states has caused these states’ foreign policy to become more concerned with issues of human rights, including not being indifferent to situations of mass human rights violations.[23] The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, for instance, consistently lobbied ASEAN states to criticize Myanmar’s human rights abuses, and subsequently, to push Myanmar to accept humanitarian aid in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008.[24] The Indonesian government, under pressure from domestic constituencies and parliament members, would in turn publicly support regional and UN efforts to convince Myanmar to “restore democracy and respect for human rights.”[25]

A similar pattern has emerged since Myanmar’s violent persecution of Rohingya Muslims began in 2012. The escalation of Myanmar’s crackdown in late 2017 sparked large protests across Southeast Asia.[26] In particular, Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, has been acutely affected by popular sympathy for the Rohingya’s plight. In addition to large protests, radical Islamic groups in Indonesia have since 2013 called for ‘jihad in Myanmar’ to support the Rohingya, and Indonesian authorities have foiled several plots to bomb Myanmar’s embassy in Jakarta.[27] Facing a potentially dangerous domestic situation, Indonesia has often taken the lead in addressing atrocities in Myanmar.[28]

Realist Politics

The initial security conditions which gave rise to the ASEAN Way may have changed, but the aim of achieving regional security through regime stability remains very salient for ASEAN. In addition to ASEAN leaders’ frequent articulation of the ASEAN Way, the principles codified in ASEAN’s human rights charters (the supposed liberal breakthroughs in ASEAN) also demonstrate the enduring appeal of the regime stability model. The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, for instance, mandates that the rights of individuals ought to be balanced with responsibilities towards the community and the sovereign state.[29] The ASEAN Human Rights Declaration of 2012 makes an even clearer appeal to the regime stability model, arguing that individuals have a right to collective economic development. It follows that they also have obligations to serve the state’s national development goals.[30]

While ASEAN states initially agreed upon non-interference to ensure the economic development and stability of member states, in practice ASEAN has been more selective in its use of non-interference when confronting ongoing crises. It is perhaps not a coincidence that Myanmar, whose contributions of total intra-ASEAN trade is among the lowest in the association and who relies very heavily on intra-ASEAN trade, has been far more frequently the subject of ASEAN states’ intervention than the likes of Indonesia or Singapore.[31] Compared to other ASEAN states, Myanmar has far less bargaining power vis-à-vis its neighbors. As elaborated in the case study of East Timor below, ASEAN states have been less willing to confront members who are militarily and economically more powerful, such as Indonesia. Moreover, ASEAN has not shied away from withdrawing support from incumbent governments it considers too weak, which is a form of intervention: withdrawing support demonstrates a preference for who should be in charge, instead of bolstering whoever happens to be in government for the sake of stability.  ASEAN has also been willing to intervene by actively favoring one out of several competing domestic factions before a stable government had already been formed. For instance, while ASEAN had long supported the Ferdinand Marcos presidency in the Philippines, by 1986 it had lost confidence in his ability to maintain order amidst potentially violent opposition. It even failed to issue a customary congratulation for his successful re-election campaign.[32] After his opponent Corazon Aquino seized the presidency, ASEAN quickly ended its long-held support for Marcos and supported Aquino’s nascent government despite strong opposition to her from the Philippine left and military.[33] In this instance, ASEAN calculated that Aquino, more so than her opponents, had the best chance of maintaining stability, and that the association should lend her diplomatic support instead of waiting for the dust of domestic politics to settle. Non-interference, then, has in practice not been a panacea for ensuring regime stability.

However, ASEAN states have likely avoided more punitive forms of intervention, such as sanctions, because of a fear of alienating members states at a time when ASEAN is attempting to present a unified front when dealing with an increasingly assertive China – a task ASEAN has traditionally failed to do. As maritime states with claims in the South China Sea, Vietnam and the Philippines have been very suspicious of Chinese actions. On the other hand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand have developed cozy relationships with China. In fact, one of the main reasons for admitting Myanmar into ASEAN in 1997 was to prevent it from falling into China’s sphere of influence.[34] Increasingly, the need to confront China may become a hindrance to ASEAN’s introspection of its record on human rights and mass atrocities.

Case Study: Crisis in East Timor  

The former Portuguese colony of East Timor had been occupied by Indonesia since 1975. In 1999, interim Indonesian president B.J. Habibie announced an independence referendum for East Timor as part of his reform program. Unexpectedly for the Indonesians, East Timor voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence on August 30th. This surprising outcome resulted in an eruption of violence when pro-Indonesia militias, backed by the Indonesian military, began burning villages and displacing thousands of East Timorese into West Timor.[35]

While ASEAN’s overall response was woefully inadequate, ASEAN leaders did have strong incentives for intervening to resolve the crisis, and several attempted to do so. Indeed, ASEAN leaders privately conceded that its response to the East Timor crisis would be a litmus test of its international standing.[36] For instance, the Thai foreign minister, with the support of several other ASEAN leaders, had in 1998 publicly advocated for more adaptability in ASEAN’s principle of non-interference and proposed a strategy of “flexible engagement” in its stead. To that end, Thailand and Malaysia had offered peacekeeping troops two days after the referendum results.[37] Public sympathy for the plight of the East Timorese was also high within ASEAN countries. For example, the Asia Pacific Conference on East Timor (APCET), a network of NGOs and human rights activists, had begun organizing conferences about human rights in East Timor since the early 1990s. By 1999, APCET had organized major conferences in Manila, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok. Moreover, the inept attempts by the Philippine, Malaysian, and Thai governments to disrupt the conferences had raised the network’s profile among the public and spread the message of solidarity with the East Timorese.[38]

Despite some incentives to act, these efforts failed to culminate in any timely action to stop the atrocities or to hold the Indonesian government accountable for the killings because of the still pervasive realpolitik logic in the region. By and large, ASEAN states had very little to say publicly about the crisis because they believed that harsh and open criticism of Indonesia would further alienate it from the ASEAN community. Such an outcome would have been anathema for ASEAN, one of whose founding goals was to contain Indonesian belligerence through the ASEAN framework.[39] Indeed, ASEAN states had good reason to fear this outcome: in response to the planned APCET Conference in Manila in 1994, Indonesia had threatened to derail negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro insurgency in Mindanao, cut trade deals worth $700 million, and sponsor a group of Philippine oligarchs to disrupt the conference.[40]

Furthermore, because the 1997 financial crisis had devastated many Southeast Asian states, many were unable to contribute material resources to conflict resolution in East Timor. The crisis also meant that popular discontent was widespread within ASEAN states, and that these regimes were severely weakened in their ability to suppress their own uprisings. Thus, similarly to the widespread internal uprisings during ASEAN’s founding in 1967, ASEAN states in 1999 were extremely fearful that criticizing Indonesia would embolden other separatist movements also active in that period, including the Free Aceh Movement in Indonesia’s Aceh province and ethnic separatists in Maluku province. Malaysia and Singapore in particular feared that they would bear the brunt of large refugee influxes from Indonesia if the country were to Balkanize. The Philippines and Thailand also faced their own Muslim separatist movement at the time of the East Timor crisis. Once again, the imperative of regime stability was a strong restraining force against vocal criticism of Indonesia’s management of the crisis.

The few instances where ASEAN have implied criticism at Indonesia lend further credence to this view. For instance, while the Singaporean foreign minister made a speech in a UN Security Council meeting that criticized Indonesia’s handling of the situation, the language he used was very mild, claiming that Singapore appreciated “… the constraints the Indonesian Government faces.”[41] Indonesia had also formally agreed to prevent violence leading up to and immediately after the referendum, while recently admitting that rogue elements from its armed forces may have been responsible for violence in East Timor.[42] Thus, Singapore’s “criticism” was far from impressive because it only censured shortcomings to which Indonesia, under pressure from the West and the UN, had already admitted. Moreover, while some ASEAN states finally contributed peacekeeping troops to a multinational force in East Timor (INTERFET), this was only after much cajoling by Australia and Japan, and after Indonesia itself had consented to a UN resolution that called for  intervention by the force.

The East Timor case demonstrates that ASEAN states can have motives for acting when atrocities occur. It also demonstrates the pervasiveness of the realist thinking and norms that have long dictated ASEAN’s logic as a security and economic community. The restraints against intervention moderated whatever motives ASEAN states may have had to intervene, resulting in “soft” intervention mainly in the form of mild condemnations. However, the internationalization of the conflict, including direct pressure from the US and UN on Indonesia, eventually enabled  stronger ASEAN responses because Western pressure made Indonesia more willing to make concessions.


This paper has sought to identify the vestiges of an anti-atrocity agenda in ASEAN. To that end, it has made two central arguments. First, ASEAN lacks a long term structural program for the prevention of mass atrocities because the association feels that its emphasis on regime stability had adequately covered potential instances of atrocities. A specialized program is considered unnecessary. Second, when atrocities are ongoing, adherence to non-interference and the ASEAN Way weakens, and ASEAN states must balance competing political imperatives. To borrow an analogy by a renowned journalist, it is like watching a skilled dancer striking a delicate balance while executing a complex move.[43]

The presence of some motives for addressing mass atrocities in ASEAN should be a call to action for proponents of stronger anti-atrocity norms. Moreover, it may provide insights into where these norms can take root. Because security concerns and realpolitik still hinder stronger anti-atrocity norms, reformers must consider relevant geopolitical and strategic concerns, and how they can be ameliorated in the context of promoting an anti-atrocities and human rights agenda. As the case study of East Timor highlights, the involvement of the broader international community, such as through US or UN public pressures, may also solicit further actions from ASEAN.

The enduring salience of the ASEAN Way, despite its problems, is testament to ASEAN’s norm-setting power. This ability should now be used to ensure that Southeast Asia is as safe as possible from the specter of mass atrocities.


[1] Lee Jones, “ASEAN’s unchanged melody? The theory and practice of ‘non-interference’ in Southeast Asia,” The Pacific Review 23, 4 (2010): 480-3

[2] “Asean’s code of non-interference benefits Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi as Rohingya crisis rolls on,” South China Morning Post, November 13, 2017.

[3] David Carment, “The Role of Regional Organizations: A Responsibility Gap?” In The Oxford Handbook of the Responsibility to Protect, edited by Alex Bellamy and Tim Dunne. and Bellamy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016): 342

[4] Mely Caballero-Anthony, “Partnership for Peace in Asia: ASEAN, the ARF, and the United Nations,” Contemporary Southeast Asia 24, 3 (2002): 534

[5] Shaun Narine, “ASEAN and the Management of Regional Security,” Pacific Affairs 71, 2 (1998): 207

[6] Amitav Acharya, Constructing A Security Community in Southeast Asia (Routledge: New York, 2014), 47

[7] Cabellero-Anthony, “Partnership”, 534

[8] Acharya, Security Community,.57

[9] Ibid. See also Alan Dupont, “ASEAN’s Response to the East Timor Crisis,” Australian Journal of International Affairs 54, 2 (2000) and SCMP, ASEAN’s Code

[10] Noel Morada, “R2P Roadmap in Southeast Asia: Challenges and Prospects,” UNISCI Discussion Papers, 11 (2006): 64

[11] Mely Caballero-Anthony, “Revisioning Human Security in Southeast Asia,” Asian Perspective 28, 3 (2004): 160

[12] Sarah Teitt, “Asia Pacific and South Asia,” In The Oxford Handbook of the Responsibility to Protect, edited by Alex Bellamy and Tim Dunne. and Bellamy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016): 375

[13] Acharya, Security Community, 140-5

[14] Joshua Kurlantzick, ASEAN’s Future and Asian Integration (New York: Council of Foreign Relations, 2012), 5

[15] Najib Razak, “The ASEAN Way Won Burma Over,” The Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2012. Note that Razak wrote this op-ed before Myanmar’s 2012 crackdown on Rohingya Muslims began.

[16] Amitav Acharya, “How Ideas Spread: Whose Norms Matter? Norm Localization and Institutional Change in Asian Regionalism,” International Organization 58, 2 (2004): 1

[17] Acharya, Security Community,109

[18] Rodolfo Severino, Southeast Asia in Search of an ASEAN Community: Insights from the Former ASEAN Secretary-General, (Singapore: ISEAS, 2006), 94

[19] Jones, Unchanged Melody, 481

[20] Hiro Katsumata, “ASEAN and human rights: resisting Western pressure or emulating the West?” Pacific Review 22, 5 (2009)

[21] Ibid, 626

[22] Ibid, 628

[23] Jurgen Ruland, “Deepening ASEAN cooperation through democratization? The Indonesian legislature and foreign policymaking,” International Relations of the Asia Pacific 9, 3 (2008): 373 – 402; Lee Jones, “Democratization and foreign policy in Southeast Asia: the case of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus,” The Pacific Review 22, 3 (2009): 387 – 406.

[24] “ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus Wants Member Nations to Intervene in Burmese Disaster”, Asian Tribune, May 9, 2008.

[25] S/PV.5619, (New York: United Nations Security Council, 2007)

[26] Fareed Ahmed and James Griffith, “Protests across Asia over Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims,” CNN, September 8, 2017.

[27] ” Indonesia arrests militant planning bomb strike on Myanmar embassy,” Reuters, November 25, 2016; Bayu Marhaeanjati, “Radical Rallies in Jakarta Call for Deadly Jihad in Myanmar,” Jakarta Globe, May 3, 2013; “Two Arrested for Jakarta Embassy Plot” Myanmar Times, May 3, 2013.

[28] Moe Thuzar and Lex Rieffel, “ASEAN’s Myanmar Dilemma,” Perspective, 3 (2018):6

[29] Terms of Reference, (Jakarta: ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, 2009), Paragraph 1.4

[30] ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. (Jakarta: ASEAN Secretariat, 2012), Articles 35-7.  

[31] Acharya, Security Community,.141

[32] BERNAMA (Kuala Lumpur), 26 February 1986, in FBIS, DR/APA, 27 February 1986, p.1

[33] BERNAMA (Kuala Lumpur), 17 February 1986, in FBIS, DR/APA, 18 February 1986, p.1

[34] Acharya, Security Community, 106

[35] Caballero-Anthony, Partnership, 541

[36] Dupont, ASEAN’s Response, 166

[37] Jones, Unchanged Melody, 492

[38] Herman Kraft, “Track Three Diplomacy and Human Rights in Southeast Asia,” Global Networks 2, 1, (2002): 49

[39] Dupont, ASEAN’s Response, 163

[40] Kraft, Track Three, 55 & Jones, Unchanged Melody,.489

[41] S/PV.4043 (Resumption), (New York: United Nations Security Council, 1999), 20

[42] Ibid, 20

[43] Fareed Zakaraia, “Macron is trying to save the West”, CNN, April 26, 2018.