Aileen S.P. Baviera, Asian Center, University of the Philippines
12 May 2013
Among the goals set by ASEAN for the year 2015 is to build the foundations for the ten Southeast Asian states to evolve into a cohesive political-security community. Compared with the two other "pillars" of the ASEAN community - the ASEAN economic community and the ASEAN sociocultural community - this goal may be the most difficult to attain. The Philippines has played and should continue to play an important role in bringing the vision of a truly cohesive and progressive ASEAN community into fruition. But the road ahead - especially towards an ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) - is full of potholes and obstacles, some of which may challenge the Philippines to define more precisely the interests, values and principles that it stands for.
Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law
The APSC Blueprint and its Plan of Action call for member states to "ensure that countries in the region live at peace with one another and with the world in a just, democratic and harmonious environment". Moving together towards this objective entails "respect for democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms". The establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in 2009 was a modest but important step in this direction, and is something that both the Philippine government and non-government organizations worked hard and can proudly take some credit for.