Legalizing the ASEAN Way: Adapting and Reimagining the ASEAN Investment Regime

51 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2016

See all articles by Sungjoon Cho

Sungjoon Cho

Chicago Kent College of Law

Jürgen Kurtz

University of Melbourne - Law School

Date Written: December 1, 2016


This article explores the legalization characteristics of the investment rules of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Measured against orthodox and external benchmarks, ASEAN’s investment regime is relatively limited. We make the following two arguments in this article. First, we argue that while ASEAN members have subscribed to global norms in their own collective investment rules, they have done so in an intentionally selective manner shaped fundamentally by key contextual dynamics. These encompass a complex combination of ASEAN members’ unique deliberation modality (the “ASEAN Way”) informed by their shared historical experience coupled with negative social learning. Using those insights, we suggest that is both possible and desirable to understand the ASEAN approach as an independent and legitimate form of legalization, rather than as a failed or flawed model. Second and relatedly, we argue that the idiographic nature of legalization in ASEAN compels us to rethink the conventional universal (nomothetic) approach to legalization and embrace a more nuanced conception.

Keywords: international investment law, ASEAN way, de-legalization, path-dependency

JEL Classification: K22, K33

Suggested Citation

Cho, Sungjoon and Kurtz, Jürgen, Legalizing the ASEAN Way: Adapting and Reimagining the ASEAN Investment Regime (December 1, 2016). American Journal of Comparative Law, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Sungjoon Cho (Contact Author)

Chicago Kent College of Law ( email )

565 W. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661-3691
United States

Jürgen Kurtz

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
613 8344 4770 (Phone)
613 8344 9971 (Fax)

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