Home » Wither The Asean Security Community? Some Reflections, by Johan Saravanamuttu.

Wither The Asean Security Community? Some Reflections, by Johan Saravanamuttu.

Vol. 1, Inaugural (2005): 44–61.


The paper argues that a security community remains an object rather than a reality among the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. This notwithstanding, ASEAN institutions, processes and structures in the security regime have multiplied manifold over its 38 years of existence. Theoretical work on ASEAN suggests that a realist-institutional understanding of ASEAN should now be supplanted by what could be called “statecentric constructivism”. However, the paper argues that such a theoretical development fails to fully account for the political construction of a security community based on some measure of civil society engagement albeit in the highly state-driven ASEAN formation. It is the understanding of this writer that the agency for change emanating from civil society forces still remains generally under-theorised.

Author’s bio

Johan Saravanamuttu is professor of political science at the School of Social Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang where he served as Dean from 1994-1996. Thereafter in 1997 he was Visiting Chair in ASEAN and International Studies at the Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto. His published works include the first major study of Malaysia’s foreign policy (1983), ASEAN regional non-governmental organizations (1986), and the nexus between industrialization and the institutionalization of authoritarian regimes in Southeast Asia (1991). His recent publications are: with Francis Loh, New Politics in Malaysia (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2003) and as guest editor, Global Change, Peace and Security, Special Issue: “Political and Civil Islam in Southeast Asia”, (Vol. 16, No. 2, June 2004). Since June 2003, Professor Saravanamuttu served as Dean of the Research Platform on Social Transformation at Universiti Sains Malaysia.


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