ASEAN Way of Peacebuilding through Performing Arts, Community Building, and Humanitarian Operations
Internship Report 2008 26 Pages
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Host Organization: ASEAN
ASEAN Way and the Field of Peace and Conflict
Summary and Recommendations
The practical part of a program studies in academic setting is an exposure and hands-on training to students who wish to learn, master and apply certain skills and specialized knowledge. This part of studies is known as internship. It bridges the gap between the theory and practice in the field of studies. It is a journey from the classroom to the field where the real action is, as it is often said.
At the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPeace) in Costa Rica, the field of peace and conflict studies combines both theoretical knowledge and practical experience to students who want to contribute to peace building and conflict transformation efforts in their chosen careers. The goal of internship is to provide a practical application of the learned theories in an organization that works in, broadly but not limited to, the field of peace and conflict. The Dual-Campus Master’s Program in International Peace Studies Program of (UPeace) is an example of this application.
It is the vision of University for Peace and Nippon Foundation, the main sponsors of this Dual-Campus Master’s Program, to train Asians who are under-represented in international organizations to become practitioners in the field. The training includes provision of theoretical foundations of the field of peace and conflict and opportunity to have a professional experience in international and local organizations as a final requirement for the completion of the program leading to a master’s degree. This internship final report focuses on the latter part of the training.
Specifically, this final report describes the conduct of internship in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), particularly in the Bureau for Resources Development (BRD), from June- October 2008. The internship was divided into three assignments/activities, namely, the Best of ASEAN Performing Arts, the ASEAN Political and Security Community meeting, and the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force in Myanmar. These activities and events are characterized as ASEAN Way of peacebuilding in Southeast Asian region.
The report contains mainly seven sections; 1) a profile of the organization that hosts the internship, 2) conceptual framework on the area of work, and 3) the relationship of the area of work with the field of peace and conflict studies, 4) accomplishments and assessment, 5) lesson learned, 6) summary, 7) recommendations.
The Host Organization: ASEAN
This section presents the host organization of internship. It contains the type of organization, its brief background and history, its vision and mission, its scope and target population, its sources of funds, and internship assignments.
The ASEAN is a regional inter-governmental organization of 10 member-states, namely, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Laos, Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Cambodia. It was founded on August 8, 1967 in Thailand by the five foreign ministers of Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. The other member-states joined the association much later. For example, Brunei Darussalam joined in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997, and the latest to join was Cambodia which was accepted in 1999. Thus, every state in the Southeast Asia is now part of the ASEAN, except for the newest state in the region, Timor Leste which has expressed its desire to be a member of ASEAN.
The ASEAN member-states, as of 2006, boast a population of roughly 560 million, joint gross domestic product of US$1,100 billion and a force to reckon with in trade with US$1,400 billion in total. The major sources of fund for ASEAN are coming from the contributions of member-states. Other international donors and states such as World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Union, United States of America, Japan, Canada, among others, also provide financial support to ASEAN.
Prior to ASEAN, there were attempts to form a regional association in Southeast Asia (Davidson, 2002, p.14). There was the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) of Malaya (Malaysia), the Philippines and Thailand in 1961. However, ASA did not prosper partly because of the exclusion of Indonesia and disputed claims by the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia of North Borneo and Sarawak. Then in 1963, the MAPHILINDO of Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia came to existence to somehow ease the tension among the three countries. Until in 1967 after Singapore became independent from Malaysia, the ASEAN was born with five member-states including Singapore.
The 1967 Bangkok Declaration enumerates the aims and purposes of the organization. Among which are;
1.) To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership..; 2.) To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter; 3.) To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative fields.
To coordinate the implementation of various activities and projects, the ASEAN established a secretariat in 1976 based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The ASEAN Secretariat is headed by a Secretary-General whose tenure is five years at the helm and is appointed during an ASEAN Summit which happens every year. The ASEAN Summit is the highest governing body which is composed of the heads of member- states.
Vision and mission
The shared vision of the 10 member-countries of ASEAN is to be “outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies.” In the 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation signed in Bali, Indonesia, member-states embraced six fundamental principles that would guide their conduct and decisions as member-states in a regional community to further cooperation and mutual understanding. These principles are “mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations, the right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion, non-interference in the internal affairs of one another, settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner, renunciation of the threat or use of force, and effective cooperation among themselves.” These are the principles that would bond and usher member-states into a community of nations.
To achieve this vision of ASEAN community, there are three pillars, namely, ASEAN political-security community, ASEAN economic community, and ASEAN socio-cultural community. Each ASEAN community corresponds to the existing bureaus in the structure of ASEAN. The ASEAN political-security community fits with the Bureau for External Relations. The ASEAN economic community corresponds to the Bureau for Economic Integration and Finance. The ASEAN socio-cultural community matches with the Bureau for Resources Development (BRD). Within each pillar of communities are specific programs, projects, and activities geared towards becoming one big ASEAN community.
Tasked to develop the socio-cultural community dimension of ASEAN, the Bureau for Resources Development (BRD) has several units that work under it. One of the units is the Cultural and Information Unit (CIU) in which the first assignment of the internship was conducted. The CIU handles the ASEAN Committee for Culture and Information which aims “to promote effective cooperation in the fields of culture and information for the purpose of enhancing mutual understanding and solidarity among the peoples of ASEAN as well as in furthering regional development.” This year, through the proposal of the current Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, the Committee launched the Best of ASEAN Performing Arts which is a series of cultural shows to showcase the richness and diversity of performing arts in the region. The series started last May 6-7, 2008 in Jakarta featuring the performing arts of Indonesia. The second one featuring Thailand was held on August 8 which coincides with the ASEAN Day. Internship helped in organizing this cultural event.
Another unit under the BRD is the Coordination Unit (CU). It is tasked to coordinate ASEAN meetings in relation to the drafting of blueprints for the Political and Security Community and Socio-Cultural Community. The blueprint for the Economic Community has already been adopted and approved by member-states. The second assignment of the internship was under the CU. Internship was to attend and help in the inputs for documentation of the proceedings of the ASEAN Political and Security Community (APSCO) meeting which took place last September 16-17, 2008 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The meeting was about the drafting of the APSCO blueprint to be adopted at 2008 ASEAN Summit in Thailand later this year.
The third assignment of the internship was to support the ongoing ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force in Myanmar which was devastated by the powerful Cyclone Nargis in May 2008. The ASEAN Secretariat set up a coordinating office which forms part of the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) composed of the Government of the Union of Myanmar, United Nations, and ASEAN. The TCG is based in Yangon, Myanmar and has humanitarian operations in the hardest hit Ayeyarwady Delta and Yangon Divisions. Internship involved a two-week deployment to Seik Gyi village in Yangon Division and Bogale village in Ayeyarwady Division in Myanmar.
In this section, a review of concepts relative to the internship is organized. A review of concepts is useful in understanding the host organization and its role in the region. It shows the relationships of these concepts between and among each other. The central concept that is worked on this internship final report is the ASEAN way. The review begins with the concept of Southeast Asia, then of ASEAN, regional integration and cooperation through humanitarian operations, community building through performing arts, common regional identity, ASEAN way as a tool and expression of the cooperation, common regional identity, and being a community of the 10 member-states, and peace building. It is important to highlight the concept of ASEAN way because it attempts to capsulate the socio-cultural elements of the 10 member-states into a peace building instrument. It is believed that the ASEAN way is instrumental in keeping and building peace in the region.
Southeast Asia as a region
Southeast Asia is a region in Asia and the world. It points to the location and position in the global map. Conventionally, it is more of a geographic entity than a political, cultural, economic entity or bloc. The ASEAN would like to change that conventional perception. It aspires to bring the region into one dynamic community.
There are four “new” regional perspectives in human geography, as Bradshaw (cited in Holmen 1995, p.48) would put it; namely, according to humanists, “the region is a source of identification and meaning;” in the lens of structuralists and world-systems theorists, “regional change is the local response to (world) capitalist processes;” in “Hagerstrand's time-geography and Giddens' structuration theory, the region is an arena enabling or constraining social interaction;” and “for 'realists' local variation is the outcome of spatial contingency effects of economic restructuring.” Holmen (1995, p.53) objects to the notion of “regions as illustrations of predetermined structures and/or processes.”
These perspectives and objection are useful in clarifying whether ASEAN faces challenges in perceiving and understanding its regions, much more its integration process. Some questions beg to be asked to ASEAN, What if the region does not provide common identification and meaning to its peoples? What if the regional initiative to group is not a local response but a reactionary effort to counter a super power state like the US or it is but an attempt to mirror and imitate a successful model of regional integration? What if the social interaction in the region is in itself a contested and subdued form brought about by previous conflict, misunderstanding and misconstrued image of the others in the region? In some answers to questions, Holmen (1995) may be right that regions are not “predetermined structures”, rather a social construct.
 See http://www.aseansec.org/64.htm for further details on the ASEAN. Retrieved June 11, 2008, from http://www.aseansec.org
 See http://www.aseancultureandinformation.org/coci/info1.php?id=2 for the overview of the unit.