JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What happened druing the first ASEAN summit - JC History Essay Notes

What happened during the first ASEAN summit?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN: Building regional peace and security)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): ASEAN and the Cold War (ASEAN’s responses to Cold War bipolarity)

Historical Context: What is the Bali Summit?
Now that we have examined the functions of ZOPFAN that sought to counter the rising Communist influence in Southeast Asia, it is imperative to consider the subsequent developments. ASEAN members stepped up efforts to intensify their extent of regional cooperation in the mid-1970s.

After the untimely departure of the USA from Indochina, ASEAN members were increasingly concerned with the ideological dangers that may threaten regional security.

On 24 February 1976, ASEAN held its first-ever Summit in Bali, Indonesia. The heads of states attended this historic event to develop countermeasures against the Communist threats. Notably, the meeting led to the signing of two key agreements: the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) and the ASEAN Concord.

Agreement #1: Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC)
Leaders of the founding five members of ASEAN signed the TAC during the Bali Summit. In general, the TAC was a political agreement to encourage peaceful cooperation among members and the mutual respect for sovereignty of states.

The purpose of this Treaty is to promote perpetual peace, everlasting amity and cooperation among their peoples which would contribute to their strength, solidarity and closer relationship,

In their relations with one another, the High Contracting Parties shall be guided by the following fundamental principles :

a. Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations;

b. The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;

c. Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;

d. Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful means;

e. Renunciation of the threat or use of force;

f. Effective cooperation among themselves.

Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), 24 February 1976.

Additionally, ASEAN encouraged non-members to adhere to the TAC principles in order to preserve regional peace and security. The agreement can be acknowledged as a bold attempt for the regional organisation to preserve security through non-violent means in spite of past and on-going inter-state tensions.

Agreement #2: ASEAN Concord
The second agreement is known as the ‘ASEAN Concord’ that can be interpreted as a unified response to stem the spread of Indochinese Communism. The ASEAN Concord focuses mainly on economic cooperation and peaceful conflict resolution.

The elimination of poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy is a primary concern of member states. They shall therefore intensify cooperation in economic and social development, with particular emphasis on the promotion of social justice and on the improvement of the living standards of their peoples.

Member states, in the spirit of ASEAN solidarity, shall rely exclusively on peaceful processes in the settlement of intra-regional differences.

The Declaration of ASEAN Concord, 24 February 1976.

Although Communism posed a clear security threat to ASEAN members, there was common consensus on adopting a non-military stance to overcome this challenge. Therefore, threats to security were usually managed through the support of countries or groupings outside ASEAN.

The ASEAN Concord proved to be a significant achievement for ASEAN as members were more willing to work together and manage the communist threats from within.

Conclusion: Is it adequate?
Ever since these two agreements signed during the first ASEAN Summit, members of the regional organization has continued to reaffirm their desire for greater cooperation, as seen by the increased frequency of intra-ASEAN and external organizational interactions (e.g. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, United Nations). ASEAN’s solidarity was later put to the test during the Third Indochina War in 1978.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Bali Summit of 1976 was a turning point for ASEAN’s efforts in managing the Cold War threats in Southeast Asia? [to be discussed in class].

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