Democracy in ASEAN: Foundation for Regional Security?


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In partnership with the The ASEAN Studies Center at American University and the Embassy of Indonesia in Washington DC

When: Apr 4 2013 - 2:00pm until Apr 4 2013 - 4:00pm
Where: East-West Center in Washington: 1819 L St. NW, Suite 600. Washington, DC. 22202

Democracy in ASEAN: Foundation for Regional Security

An Asia-Pacific Democracy and Human Rights Seminar Featuring:

Dr. Rizal Sukma

Executive Director, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta

Democracy in ASEAN: Foundation for Regional Security from East-West Center on Vimeo.

Dr. Rizal Ramli is the Executive Director at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The unstated assumption behind Indonesia's push for democracy in ASEAN in 2003 had been the belief that regional security would be better ensured when member states adhere to democratic developments. Indonesia, as the proponent of the idea, expected that democracy would serve as the foundation of regional security. Now, ten years after ASEAN agreed to include democracy in its regional cooperation agenda, it is time to reflect on the extent to which democracy has or has not served as the foundation of regional security in Southeast Asia.

In his presentation, Dr. Rizal Sukma discussed the key questions that need to be examined: To what extent has democracy become the focus of ASEAN political cooperation? Does democracy as an agenda in ASEAN cooperation serve as security-enhancing or security-undermining factor? Finally, what is the prospect for deeper democracy cooperation among ASEAN countries in the next five years?

Ultimately, Dr. Sukma concluded, democracy is a stablizing factor for internal, and intra-ASEAN disputes, making it a foundation for regional security. However, the path to democracy can be rocky, and societies in transition are often less stable than the more totalitarian systems they once were. Therefore patience must be practiced to realize the security and stability that democracy can influence. Also, he cautioned, there are limits to the problems democracy can fix; in cases of instability from geopolitical causes, alternative solutions may be required.

Dr. Rizal Sukma is Executive Director of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta; Chairman of International Relations, Muhammadiyah Central Executive Board; and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD). Since receiving a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1997, he has worked extensively on such issues as Southeast Asian security, ASEAN, Indonesia’s defense and foreign policy, and domestic political changes in Indonesia. He was the first Indonesian to receive the Nakasone Award, in July 2005, and in 2009 was listed among the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. In addition to numerous articles Dr. Sukma has published three books: Security Operations in Aceh: Goals, Consequences, and Lessons (Washington, DC: East-West Centre, 2004); Islam in Indonesia’s Foreign Policy (London: Routledge, 2003), and Indonesia and China: The Politics of A Troubled Relationship (London: Routledge, 1999).

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Grace Ruch
Phone: 202-327-9762