History of ASEAN and Its Member States

History Of ASEAN

What started off as a regional cooperation back in 1967, is now an intergovernmental association with the world’s largest free trade agreement. This intergovernmental organization aforementioned is known as ASEAN. 

This organization was established on 8th August 1967, when the five founding fathers of ASEAN — the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand — gathered together in the main hall of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok, Thailand to sign a document which included the Bangkok Declaration of 1967.

The Bangkok Declaration conceptualized the aims and main objectives of ASEAN which included : (i) Accelerating the economic growth and social progress, (ii) Promote regional peace and stability, (iii) Foster active cooperation in the cultural, technical, scientific and educational fields, (iv) Promote partnerships in the development of agriculture, trade and communication facilities in the region; (v) Promote Southeast Asian studies, and, (vi) Ensure existing international and regional organizations, with similar aims, maintain close and beneficial cooperation. 

Flags of each ASEAN Country Members

However, it did not stop there. Over the years, the association expanded more with the alliance of other Southeast Asian countries such as Brunei Darussalam which joined on 7th January 1984 as their sixth member. Subsequently, Vietnam joined forces with ASEAN on 28th July 1995. Similarly, both Lao PDR and Myanmar joined the association on the same date of 23rd July 1997. Finally, Cambodia was its last member to join on 30th April 1999. 

Where Is The ASEAN Headquarters?

Now, its headquarters can be found in Jakarta, Indonesia which was originally established on 23rd February 1976. During that time, all of the foreign ministers of ASEAN shook hands and agreed to allocate Jakarta as the location of the ASEAN Secretariat office. This was due to the fact that Indonesia was Southeast Asia’s largest and most influential state. Here is where most of the current ASEAN press conferences are held as well as its biannual meeting to discuss the political, security and sociocultural matters of Southeast Asian nations. 


Although all these countries may belong to the same region, each country is unique and are disparate in one way or another. Despite their differences, the importance of this association is to ensure the collective will of the nations of Southeast Asia to bind themselves together in friendship and cooperation through joint efforts and sacrifices.


History (2024) The founding of ASEAN. https://asean.org/the-founding-of-asean/

About-Asean (2024) ASEAN Member States. https://asean.org/member-states/

ASEAN@50 Volume 3 (2017) ASEAN and Member States: Transformation and Integration https://www.eria.org/3.5.ASEAN_50_Vol_3_Country_Reports_Brunei.pdf

Backgrounder (18 September 2023) What Is ASEAN? https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/what-asean

ASEAN Indonesia 2023 (1 May 2023) ASEAN Secretariat Building Reflects the New ASEAN Spirit https://asean2023.id/en/news/asean-secretariat-building-reflects-the-new-asean-spirit#:~:text=The%20idea%20for%20a%20permanent,largest%20and%20most%20influential%20state.

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