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Construction of bridges in Nias Islands, Indonesia, by the ILO / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 IGO

ASEAN: Association of Southeast Asian Nations

This week we will to hear a lot about the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This article provides a brief history and overview of ASEAN, an intergovernmental organization established to promote regional cooperation, peace and stability. The role of ASEAN in food systems and natural resource governance will be explored in the coming steps.

ASEAN was formed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand in 1967. Membership to ASEAN expanded when Brunei Darussalam joined in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999. These countries now make up the ten Member States of ASEAN.

The ASEAN region member countries ASEAN member countries (Astore international) / CC-BY-SA-3.0.

The ASEAN Declaration, signed in 1967, outlines the organization’s principal aims and purposes, which include accelerating economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region; promoting collaboration and mutual assistance; providing training and research facilities; and fostering more effective collaboration in agriculture, trade, transport and communications. In 2008, the ASEAN Charter entered into force, providing ASEAN with legal status and an institutional framework with additional bodies. More recently, in 2015, the ASEAN Community was launched to promote a shared ASEAN identity and vision for the future. It includes three pillars: the Political-Security Community, the Economic Community, and the Socio-Cultural Community, each with its own roadmap and timeline.


Association of Southeast Asian Nations (2016). The ASEAN Secretariat.

Image Source: “Construction of bridges in Nias Islands” by ILO in Asia and the Pacific / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 IGO and “ASEAN member countries” by Astore international / CC-BY-SA-3.0

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This article is from the free online course:

Food and Our Future: Sustainable Food Systems in Southeast Asia

Stockholm Environment Institute