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ASEAN Charter to be Enforced During Thailands Chairmanship of ASEAN

22 July 2008 (Readers 787)
One of the key issues to be adopted at the 41st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, held in Singapore from July 20 to 24, is the ASEAN Charter. This important document will come into force during Thailands chairmanship of ASEAN.

Thailand is set to assume the chairmanship of ASEAN on 24 July 2008, for a period of one and a half years. The chairmanship will rotate based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States. After assuming the Chairmanship, Thailand will chair the ASEAN summits and related summits, the ASEAN Coordinating Council, and the three ASEAN Community Councils. It will represent ASEAN in strengthening and promoting closer relations with external partners.

A strong, stable, and integrated ASEAN will benefit not only this regional grouping but also its external partners. Among ASEANs external partners are the United States, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and the European Union.

The ASEAN Charter is considered an historic agreement among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, comprising Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It was signed by ASEAN leaders on 20 November 2007 at the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore and came as ASEAN celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding. After it comes into force, the charter will be registered with the Secretariat of the United Nations.

The ASEAN Charter serves as a legal and institutional framework of ASEAN to support the realization of its goals and objectives. ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, who was former Foreign Minister of Thailand, is the first ASEAN Secretary-General to implement the ASEAN Charter.

This charter provides the ASEAN Secretary-General and the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta more power in decision-making. It may be reviewed five years after its entry into force, or as otherwise determined by the ASEAN Summit.
Upon the request of any Member State, the interpretation of the charter shall be undertaken by the ASEAN Secretariat in accordance with the rules of procedure determined by the ASEAN Coordinating Council.

According to the ASEAN Charter, the ASEAN motto is "One Vision, One Identity, One Community." ASEAN will promote its common identity and a sense of belonging among its peoples in order to achieve its shared destiny, goals, and values.

The charter calls for the establishment of an ASEAN human rights body as a new organ of ASEAN. This is a new and important commitment in ASEAN concerning the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of peoples in this region.

Thailand and its ASEAN partners agreed to implement the first ASEAN Charter with effectiveness.

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