Latin America has tips for Asean Charter

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I wrote this article for IPS because I was concerned that Asean was heading down the neo-liberal path. I felt there were many lessons that the people of Asean could learn from South America, where many countries have rejected neo-liberalism after the devastating impact it has had over there. Moreover, the Asean Charter is being drafted even though many in civil society have not been thoroughly consulted.

PENANG, Malaysia, Jan 24 (IPS) – Over the last two months, South America and South-East Asia have taken huge steps forward towards creating two distinct regional blocs. But the contrasting principles in their respective blueprints for integration reflect the different political and economic philosophies driving the integration plans.

Earlier this month, leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) met in Cebu in the Philippines and approved a blueprint for a charter, which will lay the foundation for a new ASEAN Community by 2015. ASEAN groups Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines and Indonesia.

The guiding principles in the ASEAN blueprint reveal a markedly different emphasis compared to the underlying tenets in the Cochabamba Declaration, signed in Bolivia last month, paving the way towards a South American Community of Nations. Full article

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