Despite the long-held and jealously guarded ASEAN principle of non-intervention, this book argues that states in Southeast Asia have begun to display an increasing readiness to think about sovereignty in terms not only of state responsibility to their own populations but also towards neighbouring countries as well. Taking account of the realities of interstate cooperation in the region, and drawing on the work of Emmanuel Levinas, the author develops a new theoretical framework reflecting an evolution of attitudes about state sovereignty to explain this emerging ethic of regional responsibility.
This chapter examines how the logic of responsible provision has been applied to three areas of intraregional cooperation – HADR, conflict management and human rights. The section on HADR cooperation looks at how, in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, crucial pieces of the regional architecture for HADR – the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), the AHA Centre for disaster management, the ASEAN Militaries Ready Group (AMRG) on HADR, the ADMM and ADMM-Plus, as well as national-level assets like the Singapore-based Regional HADR Coordination Centre (RHCC) – have been put in place. The chapter also looks at how Southeast Asia’s response to the threat of terrorism has evolved not only in terms of the militarisation of national and regional counterterrorism strategies, but on a normative note, the growing acceptance of conflict management – previously eschewed because of the region’s fidelity to noninterference – in response to the changing tactics of the militants and terrorists themselves. Finally, the chapter examines how the region has addressed the human rights challenge, at best only in a half-hearted fashion.
This chapter explores how regional responsibility is expressed in the context of Southeast Asia’s creep towards the pacific settlement of trade and territorial disputes. It examines the nexus between sovereignty and responsibility, which is also partly manifested in the way regional countries have coalesce around the notion of a rules-based order in the Asia-Pacific, where responsible stakeholders presumably abide by rules-based governance, consensually agreed codes of interstate conduct and resort to peaceful means of dispute settlement. This includes ASEAN’s slow evolution towards a rules-based regional governance and a ‘legal personality’ in the form of the ASEAN charter. It also looks at the increasing reliance by Southeast Asian countries on international dispute settlement regimes and mechanisms as means, such as mediation, reconciliation, arbitration and/or adjudication, for resolving their disputes over trade and territory. Crucially, increasing reliance on peace means of dispute resolution does not automatically lead to a concomitant reduction in conflicts and disputes between regional countries; indeed, it might even engender more disputes because governments are now encouraged to raise issues in the mutual expectation that contending parties are unlikely to resort to war to settle their conflicts.
This chapter assesses the pros and cons of adopting liberal or communitarian bases for the sovereign responsibility and the R2Provide in the Southeast Asian context. Italso discusses the philosophical and theoretical difficulties associated with both those approaches that render them inappropriate as grounds for a meaningful and relevant sovereign responsibility in Southeast Asia. Why soespecially since Southeast Asia reflects both liberal and communitarian attributes? On the one hand, although the region has experienced a level of democratisation, the persistence and prevalence of unresolved tensions and disputes over sovereignty among the region’s states have both underscored the continued relevance of the noninterference norm in their diplomacy and hindered their full acceptance of the liberally-based R2P. On the other hand, although various scholars have offered a communitarian apologia of illiberal societies and politics in Southeast Asia in the form of Asian values, any notion of communitarian sovereign responsibility is likely to be highly circumscribed by its inherent affinity to nationalism and realpolitik. Ultimately, the predisposition of both communitarianism and liberalism to the logics of autonomy and totalitarianism render them flawed choices as ethical paradigms on which to base sovereign responsibility.
Firstly, this chapter introducesLevinas’ ‘responsibility for the other’ notion as an alternative to the liberal and communitarian conceptions of responsibility and sovereignty. Both liberal and communitarian ethics are problematic because of theirshared assumption that responsibility is first and foremost to the self. The chapter introduces key features of Levinas’ ethics – the place and role of hospitality, reciprocity and justice in the responsibility for the other. It also examines how friendly critiques by interlocutors(Derrida, Ricoeur, Caputo, etc.) help moderate Levinas’ idealism without necessarily taking things in overly pragmatic or realist directions or, worse, blunting its moral force. Secondly, the chapter assesses the relevance of Levinas’ ethics to the questions of responsible sovereignty and the R2Provide in Southeast Asia. With reference to the regional conduct described in Chapters 4, 5 and 6, it is argued that Levinas’ ideas redefine the terms of the relationship between responsible providers and their recipients in three key ways: one, our assumptions and expectations over one’s extension of hospitality to one’s neighbours; two, the rethinking of mutuality and reciprocity between providers and recipients; and three, the ways in which the considerations for justice play out within the Southeast Asian context are concerned.
This chapter draws the study to a close with a summary of the book’s key claims and arguments. Judging by the region’s mixed record, a ‘cup half full’ approach allows at best the conclusion that Southeast Asian states and ASEAN are working toward realising their aspirations and turning words into deeds. So much more remains to be done. Essentially, rather than the mere absence of conflict and war, this book has sought, through the R2Provide, to offer a positive conception of Southeast Asia’s international relations, one that ultimately aims to improve the conditions and lives of the recipient countries and societies with whom responsible providers engage – even as, it should be said, the provider countries and societies are themselves enriched for having refreshed others. What this book has presented as the growing ethic of responsible provision undertaken by Southeast Asian countries – selectively and unevenly, needless to say, but incrementally – could be the proverbial small steps leading over time to a giant leap toward a more hospitable and responsible region. Paraphrasing Levinas, faced with their others, perhaps Southeast Asians will come to demand more of themselves.
This introductory chapter presents the aims and architecture of the book. It introduces an emerging ethic of responsible sovereignty in Southeast Asia, which it calls the ‘responsibility to provide’ (or R2Provide), and seeks an ethical explanation for it. The chapter provides synopses of the eight chapters that follow, which collectively accomplish the book’s three objectives. Firstly, it identifies and assesses a number of regional developments in defence, security, diplomatic and economic cooperation in which Southeast Asian countries, individually as well as institutionally through ASEAN and its various functional manifestations and modalities, have sought to assist one another in collective response to challenging situations. Secondly, it discusses how the R2Provide has taken root in Southeast Asia, albeit more deeply so in some countries than others, as well as within ASEAN and its various functional subsidiaries and spinoffs, such as the ADMM, the ADMM-Plus, the AHA Centre and the like. Thirdly, contra communitarian and liberal perspectives on ethics, it introduces and critically applies the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas, specifically his notion of responsibility for the other, to the R2Provide and more broadly to the quest for responsible interstate conduct in Southeast Asia.
This chapter examines extant understandings of sovereignty as responsibility, beginning with the idea of sovereign responsibility as conceptualised by Francis Deng and his collaborators, who contend that sovereignty can no longer be seen as a protection against interference, but as a charge of responsibility where the state is accountable to both domestic and external constituencies. The understanding is foundational to the thinking behind the 2001 International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) report, which introduced the responsibility to protect (R2P) with the aim to popularise the concept of humanitarian intervention and democracy-restoring intervention. Since its endorsement by the United Nations, the R2P has evolved through efforts by the UN and others to enhance, operationalise as well as to implement it in actual crisis situations – with varying degrees of success and in some instances not without controversy. The chapter discusses the relevance of the sovereignty as responsibility idea to Southeast Asia. It also examines the existing academic and policy debate over the R2P and its relevance to international security and sovereign responsibility, as well as its ambivalent reception in Southeast Asia.
This chapter introduces the responsibility to provide (R2Provide) and furnishes a sense of the diplomatic, normative and political conditions from which the notion emerged. The policy and academic debate sparked by Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008 and the post-crisis reconstruction effort helped shape the terms and references of the evolving sense of collective responsibility among Southeast Asian countries. What emerged was not surprising given the region’s enduring deference to the non-interference norm. Contrary to the R2P’s assumption that prospective targets of intervention bear the onus to justify to their prospective interveners why they do not deserve to be intervened against, the R2Provide places the onus instead on prospective recipients of assistance to invite or request their prospective helpers to exercise their responsibility to provide. That said, guided by Levinas’ ethics, the book goes on to contend that both recipient and provider equally share the obligation and responsibility to furnish succour, safety and security to affected populations: the recipient through her grant of consent and invitation, on one hand, the provider through her contributions of aid, assistance and the like on the other.
This chapter examines the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) and its wider regional spinoff, the ADMM-Plus. It makes a case for how cooperative initiatives within the multilateral context of the ADMM and ADMM-Plus embody the R2Provide on instrumental and normative grounds. In contrast to the underwhelming performance of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ADMM and ADMM-Plus have hitherto surpassed expectations with their strong military-to-military cooperation primarily in the form of substantive multilateral exercises in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), counterterrorism, maritime security and the like. The relevance and value of the ADMM-Plus is underscored by its upgrading to an annual gathering and overtures from interested parties seeking to join the ADMM-Plus. However, there are legitimate concerns over the future viability of the ADMM and ADMM-Plus: they remain untested in real crisis situations; their ability to address regional flashpoints is still unclear; their members may struggle with participation fatigue given the likely increase in activities and commitments. All these considerations could get in the way of the collective development of a security regionalism that is responsible, meaningful and substantive.