A People-Oriented ASEAN: A Door Ajar or Closed for Civil Society Organizations?
- Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 30, Number 2, August 2008
- pp. 313-331
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ASEAN has proclaimed the rhetoric of becoming “people-oriented” in a number of documents over recent years and this phrase also appears in the Association’s new Charter. The prospect that ASEAN is moving away from being state-centric and elite-driven to one that is “people-empowering” has brought ASEAN onto the radar screens of civil society organizations (CSOs). These CSOs, encouraged by ASEAN reaching out to engage with them in its Socio-Cultural Community Plan of Action, have responded enthusiastically to this rhetoric and since 2005 there have been a plethora of ASEAN civil society conferences. Despite this the ASEAN Charter has not been well received by CSOs; indeed they are aiming to adopt an alternative (an ASEAN Peoples’ Charter). This article examines why CSOs are disappointed with the Charter and what ASEAN means by “people-oriented”