Part 1: Understanding the ASEAN Summit

Indonesian worker raise an Association of South East Asian Nation's (ASEAN) flag surrounding the ASEAN venue in Nusa Dua on July 17, 2011. (AFP Photo/Sonny Tumbelaka)

The upcoming Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit taking place in Singapore this week will be the 32nd in the association’s history. Apart from all the pomp and splendour of state banquets, red carpet receptions and elbow brushing amongst top regional leaders, there is plenty of work to be achieved during the many high-level meetings at the summit.

What is the ASEAN Summit?

ASEAN was formed on 8 August, 1967 by the five founding member nations - Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines - against a backdrop of conflict in the Indochinese region and the need for greater friendship and cooperation amongst sovereign states in the region.

Over time, ASEAN’s role has evolved to include economic, societal and political integration. The ASEAN Summit is a key avenue for global leaders and stakeholders to meet and deliberate on talking points that impact the region.

How long has ASEAN been holding regional summits?

The first ASEAN Summit was held in Bali, Indonesia in 1976, nine years after ASEAN’s formation. The ASEAN Summit used to be held infrequently until 2009 when it started to be held twice, annually.

What is this year’s summit all about?

The chairman for this year’s edition of the summit is Singapore. Besides regional security and economic issues, the summit will also feature discussions on the chairman’s agenda.

The state assuming the Chairmanship will also chair the ASEAN Summit and related summits, the ASEAN Coordinating Council, the three ASEAN Community Councils, relevant ASEAN Sectoral Ministerial Bodies and senior officials, and the Committee of Permanent Representatives.

During the chairmanship handover last year, Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong revealed the theme for the island republic’s chairmanship this year, “Resilience and Innovation.”

The 32nd ASEAN Summit will take place in Singapore from the 25th to the 28th of April 2018. Visit The ASEAN Post for the latest news, updates and developments on this year’s summit.