The ASEAN Charter serves as a firm foundation in achieving the ASEAN Community by providing legal status and institutional framework for ASEAN. It also codifies ASEAN norms, rules and values; sets clear targets for ASEAN; and presents accountability and compliance.
In order to further institutionalize ASEAN and to give it legal status, the Leaders agreed at the 11th ASEAN Summit in December 2005, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the drafting and implementation of an ASEAN Charter to establish an effective Association that is rules-based and people-centered. They established the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on the ASEAN Charter to propose a vision and direction for ASEAN integration under the Charter.
At the 12th ASEAN Summit in 2006, the leaders tasked a High Level Task Force (HLTF) to draft the ASEAN Charter. The final document comprises 13 chapters and 55 articles. The ASEAN Charter was adopted at the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore in 2007, and came into force on 15 December 2008 during Thailand’s chairmanship of ASEAN.
The ASEAN Charter entered into force on 15 December 2008. A gathering of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers was held at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta to mark this very historic occasion for ASEAN. With the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN will henceforth operate under a new legal framework and establish a number of new organs to boost its community-building process.
In effect, the ASEAN Charter has become a legally binding agreement among the 10 ASEAN Member States. It will also be registered with the Secretariat of the United Nations, pursuant to Article 102, Paragraph 1 of the Charter of the United Nations.
The importance of the ASEAN Charter can be seen in the following contexts:
- New political commitment at the top level
- New and enhanced commitments
- New legal framework, legal personality
- New ASEAN bodies
- Two new openly-recruited DSGs
- More ASEAN meetings
- More roles of ASEAN Foreign Ministers
- New and enhanced role of the Secretary-General of ASEAN
- Other new initiatives and changes
Charter of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Singapore, 20 November 2007