ASEAN Charter

ASEAN Summit Indonesia Malaysia

The ASEAN Charter
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (orthographic projection).svg
Members of ASEAN
Signed20 November 2007 (2007-11-20)
EffectiveDecember 2008
Conditionratification by all states
Parties10 (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam)
DepositarySecretary-general of ASEAN

The ASEAN Charter[1] is a constituent instrument of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It was adopted at the 13th ASEAN Summit in November 2007.[2]

The intention to draft the Charter had been formally proposed at the 11th ASEAN Summit held in December 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Ten ASEAN leaders, one from each member state, called the ASEAN Eminent Persons Group (EPG) were assigned to produce recommendations for the drafting of the charter.

At the 12th ASEAN Summit held in January 2007 in Cebu, the Philippines, several basic proposals were made public. ASEAN leaders agreed during the summit to set up a "high level task force on the drafting of the ASEAN Charter" composed of ten high level government officials from the ten member countries. The task force then held 13 meetings during 2007.

The Charter

Principles set out in the charter include:

Member State Government Ratification Deposit of
Instrument of Ratification
Signed by
 Singapore 18 Dec 2007 7 Jan 2008 Prime Minister
 Brunei Darussalam 31 Jan 2008 15 Feb 2008 Sultan
 Lao People's Democratic Republic 14 Feb 2008 20 Feb 2008 President
 Malaysia 14 Feb 2008 20 Feb 2008 Foreign Minister
 Vietnam 14 Mar 2008 19 Mar 2008 Minister of Foreign Affairs
 Cambodia 25 Feb 2008[3] 18 Apr 2008 National Assembly
 Myanmar 21 Jul 2008 21 Jul 2008[4] Foreign Minister
 Philippines 7 Oct 2008[5] 12 Nov 2008[6] Senate
 Indonesia 21 Oct 2008[7] 13 Nov 2008[6] The People's Consultative Assembly of the Republic of Indonesia
 Thailand 16 Sep 2008[8] 14 Nov 2008[6] Parliament


The charter came into force in December 2008, thirty days after Thailand's delivery of the final instrument of ratification. Thailand's permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Don Pramudwinai deposited the document with ASEAN Secretary-General, Surin Pitsuwan, at the Thai mission in New York on 14 November. He issued a statement saying, "This is certainly an occasion to celebrate for the 570 million people of ASEAN. This means that when the ASEAN leaders gather at their annual summit in mid December, the ASEAN Charter will have come into force." He was referring to the charter coming into force after the 14th Summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from 13–18 December. In doing so he added that celebrations would follow not only for the full ratification of the charter but also the entering into force of the new basic law of ASEAN, "It will be a rules-based and people-oriented organisation with its own legal personality".[6]


On 15 December 2008, the members of ASEAN met in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta to launch the charter, signed in November 2007, with the aim of moving closer to "an EU-style community".[9][10] The charter turned ASEAN into a legal entity and aimed to create a single free-trade area for the region encompassing 600 million people. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated: "This is a momentous development...ASEAN is...transforming itself into a community. It is achieved while ASEAN seeks a more vigorous role in Asian and global affairs at a time when the international system is experiencing a seismic shift", he added, referring to climate change and economic upheaval. Southeast Asia is no longer the bitterly divided, war-torn region it was in the 1960s and 1970s".

The ongoing global financial crisis was identified as a threat to the goals envisioned by the charter.[11] The most controversial part of the charter was the proposed human rights body, details of which were to be hammered out at the summit in February 2009. The body would not have the power to impose sanctions or punish countries that violate citizens' rights and would therefore be limited in effectiveness.[12]


  1. ^ The ASEAN Charter (PDF). Jakarta: ASEAN Secretariat. December 2007. ISBN 978-979-3496-62-7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Indonesian ministers asked to follow up ASEAN summit results", Xinhua, 22 Nov 2007.
  3. ^ "Cambodian National Assembly approves ASEAN Charter". Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
  4. ^ "Burma ratifies ASEAN charter | The Australian". 22 July 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2008.[dead link]
  5. ^ "Philippine Senate ratifies ASEAN Charter", 7 Oct 2008.
  6. ^ a b c d "Malaysian National News Agency: BERNAMA". Archived from the original on 14 January 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
  7. ^ "ASEAN Secretariat: ASEAN Charter fully ratified", 21 Oct 2008.
  8. ^ "Surin welcomes Thailand's ratification of Asean charter" Archived 24 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine, 16 Sep 2008.
  9. ^ "'Momentous' day for ASEAN as charter comes into force". Agence France-Presse. 15 December 2008. Archived from the original on 14 January 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
  10. ^ Lucy Williamson (15 December 2008). "South East Asia to launch charter". BBC. Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
  11. ^ Olivia Rondonuwu & Suhartono, Harry (15 December 2008). "ASEAN launches charter under shadow of crisis". Reuters. Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
  12. ^ "ASEAN charter comes into force". International Herald Tribune. 15 December 2008. Archived from the original on 18 December 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2008.