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Assessment and Overview: ASEAN and Regional Involvement of Civil Society

November 2009
Simon Tay and Lim May-Ann

This paper was presented in Nov 2009 at the ASEAN Secretariat Symposium on Methods of Stakeholder Involvement in Regional Organisations, co-organised by the ASEAN Secretariat and FES Asia.


Institutional engagement between ASEAN and with civil society (CS) should be a two-way street. Engagement must be seen as both a desirable and necessary process by ASEAN as well as by civil society actors. It is only when both parties are willing and able to approach the other in a collaborative environment will a successful partnership emerge.

This assessment and overview of ASEAN and regional involvement of civil society will focus more closely on developments in ASEAN-CS engagements over the last ten years, and aims to cover a number of areas. In particular, it will discuss developments involving the pillar of ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), the third pillar of the ASEAN Community.

In the first part of this paper, the history of ASEAN’s engagement with civil society will be reviewed, looking at existing avenues and areas of involvement. This will cast include discussion on the structure of ASEAN, and its capacity to handle civil society engagement.  The second part of this paper will consider particular areas of engagement in which functional or issue-based civil society organisations have had with ASEAN. The third and concluding part of the paper will provide a policy analysis of the current ASEAN and regional involvement of civil society, and make observations which may be used to frame a discussion on stakeholder involvement methods for ASEAN.

This paper was written with help from Fredrich-Ebert Stiftung


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