ASEAN to be ruled by law from now: leaders | india | Hindustan Times
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ASEAN to be ruled by law from now: leaders

According to the new charter, leaders to reject 'undemocratic' changes in the govt of any nation, reports Prerna K Mishra.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2007 23:02 IST

Nearly 40 years after Asean was born in Bangkok, the leaders of its ten member states approved the draft of a new charter which will make it a rule-based organisation.

The charter whose draft says that Asean will reject "unconstitutional and undemocratic changes in government", even allows for suspension of any member country which does not abide by it.

Viewed in the backdrop of the coup in Thailand, increasing political unrest in Philippines, and Myanmar’s continuous refusal to give democracy a chance,this is a bold decision.

Though such regional instability is in stark contrast to the ASEAN's new vision of a discipline-enforcing charter, all members have made a good beginning by agreeing to it.

The draft was essentially an endorsement of the recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), composed of veteran diplomats from across the region.

The Eminent Persons Group (EPG)had put forward 28 'bold and visionary' recommendations for the proposed charter to reposition Asean's economic competitiveness in a fast changing world environment.

The charter has also proposed that the ASEAN Summit be called the ASEAN Council and its leaders meet at least twice a year.

"After 40 years Asean is now at a critical turning point. Although Asean is one of the most successful regional organizations today, there is no guarantee that it will continue to be relevant in the coming decades and remain the driving force in regional cooperation," according to the executive summary of the draft formulated over a span of one year and presented by the EPG in Cebu during the Asean summit.

Meanwhile, 10 member-countries of the ASEAN and China also signed an agreement on Trade in Services of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation.

This is in keeping with their common desire to deepen economic linkages, minimise trade barriers, increase intra-regional trade and investment, and create a larger market with greater opportunities.

They expressed confidence that the establishment of an ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will create strong partnership between the ASEAN member countries and China and provide a vital mechanism that will strengthen cooperation and support economic development in East Asia.