1. What is ASEAN?

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established on 8 August 1967 with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration. It currently counts ten Member States, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as Papua New Guinea and East Timor as observers. The ASEAN Presidency is rotated annually.

The legal framework of relations among the ten ASEAN Member States rests upon three declarations of ASEAN concord of 1976, 2003 and 2011, as well as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (the Bali Concord) of 1976, and its amendment protocol of 1987, which opened the document for accession by states outside Southeast Asia. So far, 31 countries and the European Union have entered the treaty, with Russia acceding to the treaty in 2004.

The ASEAN Charter came into force on 15 December 2008.

The ASEAN Annual Summit is the supreme policy-making body of ASEAN, comprising the Heads of State or Government of the Member States. The ASEAN Coordinating Council comprising ASEAN Foreign Ministers manages the day-to-day affaires of the association. ASEAN also serves as a platform for meetings of ministers and senior officials in various areas, and has over 20 mechanisms (committees, working groups, etc.) for cooperation on specific issues. 

2. ASEAN History

At its inception, ASEAN included Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. In 1984, it expanded its ranks to include Brunei Darussalam. Vietnam joined the association in 1995, followed by Laos and Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999. Papua New Guinea and East Timor have observer status.

In 2002, the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) agreement came into force. In 2010, the 17th ASEAN Summit approved the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity with a view of promoting integration between the ten Member States by unifying their transport, ICT and social infrastructure.

The three pillars of the ASEAN Community, launched on 1 January 2016, include economic, political and socio-cultural dimensions. 

Further development plans are envisaged in the declaration ASEAN-2025: Forging Ahead Together, which was adopted at the 27th ASEAN Summit, and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. In 2016, this framework is expected to be supplemented by the ASEAN Connectivity 2025 document and a new Work Plan of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) (first adopted in 2000).

3. What are the areas of cooperation within ASEAN?

The ASEAN Community is set upon three pillars, namely political and security cooperation, economic cooperation and socio-cultural cooperation. Each pillar has its own priorities and cooperation mechanisms that provide a foundation for the ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

The Political-Security Community promotes dialogue on issues related to foreign policy, defence, justice, fighting transnational crime and non-proliferation of WMDs.

The Economic Community facilitates cooperation on economic issues, free trade, investment, finance, agriculture, energy, natural resources, science and technology, communications, transport and tourism, and the development of the Mekong River basin.

The Socio-Cultural Community strives to enhance cooperation in areas such as culture and arts, information, education and healthcare, as well as emergency response, labour, poverty eradication, social development, youth contacts and civil society.

The creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Southeast Asia is another priority for ASEAN. A treaty to this effect was signed in 1995 and took effect in 1997.

Maritime security is another key element of ASEAN diplomatic efforts. The ASEAN Maritime Forum was launched in 2007, providing a mechanism for promoting dialogue between governments and academia of the ten Member States on ensuring freedom of navigation.

ASEAN also attaches great importance to human rights issues, having established an ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in 2009. In 2012, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration was approved at the 21st Summit.

4. What is the role of the ASEAN Secretariat?

The ASEAN Secretariat is not a supranational body. Its role is limited to managing technical issues and coordinating the work of the association.

The ASEAN Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General and is headquartered in Jakarta.

A Committee of Permanent Representatives was created within the Secretariat to facilitate interaction between Member States with each of the ten countries appointing a Permanent Representative with the rank of Ambassador.

5. What are the responsibilities of the ASEAN Secretary-General?

The Secretary-General is appointed for a non-renewable term of five years, selected among nationals of ASEAN Member States based on alphabetical rotation.

Lê Lương Minh, former Deputy Foreign Minister of Vietnam, has held this office since 2013, with his term ending in 2017. The Secretary-General carries out the duties and responsibilities of this high office in accordance with the provisions of the Charter and relevant ASEAN instruments. Specifically, the Secretary-General facilitates and monitors progress on the implementation of ASEAN agreements and decisions, participates in meetings of the ASEAN Summit and other relevant ASEAN meetings, works with external parties, and recommends the appointment and termination of the Deputy Secretaries-General.

6. What is the Dialogue Partnership for ASEAN?

The ASEAN Dialogue Partnership mechanism took shape in the 1970s and is based on a network of dialogue partners among the leading world powers. ASEAN counts Australia, India, Canada, China, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia, the United States, Japan, and the European Union among its Dialogue Partners, while Pakistan has sectoral Dialogue Partner status.

The same framework was used in 1999 to create a mechanism for enhanced interaction with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea in the ASEAN+3 format. The ASEAN+3 launched the Chiang Mai Initiative in 2000 (a multilateral currency swap arrangement for the mutual support of national currencies), which paved the way to the creation of a foreign exchange reserves pool worth $120 billion to counter financial crises.

Since 2005, the multilateral political and security dialogue has been taking place during the meetings of the East Asia Summit (EAS), bringing together ten ASEAN Member States and six external partners: China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. In 2010, a decision was taken at the 5th Summit to approve the accession of Russia and the United States to this mechanism, and the first EAS Summit in the ASEAN+8 format was held in 2011 (Bali, Indonesia).

The ASEAN Regional Forum is a ministerial-level meeting that was launched in 1994. It consists of 27 countries, including the ten ASEAN Member States, its Dialogue Partners, and a number of other countries from the Asia Pacific. Both the EAS and the Regional Forum hold annual meetings. In 2010, Vietnam spearheaded the creation of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting with eight ASEAN Dialogue Partners, including Russia.

At the same time, ASEAN is also committed to facilitating trade with major partners outside Southeast Asia. At the 21st Summit ASEAN leaders endorsed the decision to launch talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with countries that already had free trade agreements with ASEAN, namely China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. The talks to establish RCEP are expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

7. What are the areas of ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Partnership?

The ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Partnership was launched in July 1991 at a ministerial meeting, to which the Government of Malaysia invited Russia's representatives. Russia became a full Dialogue Partner in July 1996 during the 29th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Jakarta (Indonesia).

Russia is committed to promoting cooperation with ASEAN in various areas such as political and security cooperation, economy and trade cooperation, and cultural, educational and scientific cooperation. The key areas of cooperation are trade and economy, energy, agriculture, science and technology, culture and youth exchanges, as well as capacity building, fighting international terrorism and transnational crime.

8. How many ASEAN-Russia Summits have already been held? 

The first ASEAN-Russia Summit was held on 13 December 2005, resulting in the signing of a Joint Declaration of the Heads of State/Government of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Head of State of the Russian Federation on Progressive and Comprehensive Partnership. The Summit also produced the Agreement between the Governments of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Government of the Russian Federation on Economic and Development Cooperation (enacted in August 2006) and the Comprehensive Programme of Action to Promote Cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Russian Federation 2005-2015.

Hanoi, Vietnam, hosted the second ASEAN-Russia Summit on October 30, 2010. This meeting led to the adoption of the Joint Leaders' Statement and the signing of the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation between the Governments of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Government of the Russian Federation. The Agreement came into force in January 2015.

In 2016, Russia and ASEAN will hold a Summit in Sochi, Russia, to mark the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Partnership.

9. Host Photo Agency

The host photo agency is responsible for photographing all official events open to media coverage as part of the ASEAN − Russia Summit. Photographs will be promptly posted in a specially designated section of the official website of the ASEAN − Russia Commemorative Summit dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN − Russia Dialogue Partnership and can be used by media representatives.

When publishing any of the photographs you must include a link to the official website of the ASEAN − Russia Summit.