ASEAN and Human Security: Challenges and Opportunities

Ritsumeikan Center for Asia Pacific Studies Working Paper, No. 09-5

22 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2009

Date Written: July 29, 2009


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has been the driving force behind the recent growth in regionalism in the Asia Pacific Area. ASEAN 3, the Asian Regional Forum (ARF), and the East Asia Summit are all built around ASEAN. The ASEAN family of international organizations covers a wide array of issues ranging from the economy to regional security. Due to the central role played by ASEAN in Asia Pacific regionalism, the 'ASEAN way' of decision-making has permeated to the other organizations. The 'ASEAN way' favors reaching agreement by consensus, respect of absolute sovereignty, and non-binding decisions, inter alia. This paper deals with the challenges and opportunities in applying the Human Security Concept for the development and security of the region. First, a brief explanation of the two main variations of the Human Security concept is provided, followed by a review of ASEAN and related organizations. This review is then followed with an explanation of the 'ASEAN way' and other underlying principles of the organizations as embodied in the ASEAN Charter. Finally, those previously identified principles are compared and contrasted to those of the two prevalent definitions of Human Security. Two brief case studies are provided as examples of Japan’s flexible approach to Human Security in Southeast Asia. The paper concludes that while there are some theoretical incompatibilities between the principles related to the ASEAN way, the flexibility of the Human Security approach, as represented by the Japanese version of it, can be applied to the region by applying it at the community and individual levels.

Keywords: ASEAN, Human Security, Southeast Asia, Development

Suggested Citation

von Feigenblatt, Otto Federico, ASEAN and Human Security: Challenges and Opportunities (July 29, 2009). Ritsumeikan Center for Asia Pacific Studies Working Paper, No. 09-5, Available at SSRN: or

Otto Federico Von Feigenblatt (Contact Author)

Real Academia de Doctores de España ( email )


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