Research Achievements

GIARI & Political Integration and Identity

Research:Publications:Working Papers FY2010(english-8,japanese-4)

ASEAN and Human Security: Crisis-Driven Explanation / Takashi Terada


Working Papers

Excellent papers on Asian regional integration, which are prepared mainly by young researchers such as GIARI members, co-researchers, research fellows, and research assistants, will be published as working papers. Contributed papers, written in English or in Japanese, will be reviewed and examined by the editorial committee before publication. GIARI donates published papers to the libraries of Waseda and other related universities, research organizations, etc.

GIARI Working Paper Vol. 2010-E-5


  • Introduction
  • Rise of human security
  • ASEAN and the introduction of human security
  • ASEAN and implementation of human security
  • ASEAN, Myanmar and human security
  • Concluding remarks


Transformations of the international structure normally influence changes in the foreign policies of states; involving changes in normative beliefs, which fundamentally shape the foreign policy direction. After the demise of the Cold War, representing the substantially relaxed ideological constraints on states’ behaviours especially in nations belonging to the former Eastern bloc, ethnic confrontations, territorial disputes and religious conflicts emerged, calling for more attention to the interior affairs of these fragile states. These circumstances came to strengthen the international recognition that not only states, but also individuals can be the subject and coverage of international law (Hoadley, 2006: 20), illustrating the individual input into the traditional thinking of security discourse in which damage and suffering of individuals should be more seriously acknowledged. The United Nations (UN) took a key role in socialising the human security concept as the UN Development Programme (UNDP) published the Human Development Report in 1994. The UN was initially established to deal with problems arising from both human and national security, but the Cold War contributed to the Security Council dominating the UN politics and administration, and driving the focus more on national security agendas, marginalising the role of other significant organs such as the Economic and Social Council. The UNDP report, which proposed six major agendas, including the establishment of a Global Human Security Fund for the inaugural organisation of the World Summit for Social Development the following year, may have represented the growing international acknowledgement of the need for correcting this imbalance on security discourse by paying more attention to human security issues.

Insecurity perceived by human beings normally transcends national borders through trans-national criminal networks or refugees, so collective preventive actions by regional countries which tend to share those sources of human insecurity as grave threats can be more effective and practical than actions taken individually. It is thus no wonder that major regional institutions such as the EU have promoted human security cooperation, and Glasius and Kaldor (2006: 7) highlight the following cases as belonging to the human security category: genocide, large-scale torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, disappearances, slavery, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), another regional body which has sought to achieve a regional community, is not an exception, as the 2004 Vientiane Action Plan (VAP) prioritised the institutional coordination among relevant ASEAN bodies to promote cooperation on non-traditional security issues including 2 trans-national crimes; those issues are now seen as important policy ingredients in the formation of the ASEAN Security Community. Ong Keng Yong, (2007), then ASEAN Secretary-General, highlighted the significant areas that human security concerned in the case of Southeast Asia and they included: 1) Avian Flu, 2) HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases such as malaria, 3) haze and other trans-boundary environmental degradation, 4) narcotic drugs, 5) natural disasters and 6) friction and conflicts arising from migrant workers. It is now clear that the EU and ASEAN display different priorities and different approaches in terms of promoting human security; ASEAN’s approaches omit issues related to protection of human rights, on which the EU places more significant weight. Canada is well known for keenly promoting this category of human security by pushing the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) approach which intends to legitimize humanitarian intervention by outsiders to deal with genocide, ethnic cleansing or war crimes. Why do these distinctive categories of and approaches to human security emerge? Does ASEAN have no intention or power to promote R2P-related agendas in Southeast Asia, indicating that ASEAN’s human security interests are selective? This paper examines the difficulties of introducing R2P as a human security approach to ASEAN by elucidating the process in which ASEAN has been striving to introducing human security norms through key critical events such as the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, the 1999 East Timor independence and the 2008 Cyclone Nargis. This paper concludes although ASEAN’s non-intervention principle is a major factor behind ASEAN’s difficulty in accepting R2P as a security norm, even the UN has been struggling with the implementation of R2P.