ASEAN and the Sovereignty Principle: Explaining the Dynamics of Resistance to Sovereignty Violation
This thesis investigates the history of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) stance on external intervention in regional affairs. It addresses the question: When has ASEAN state resistance to sovereignty challenges succeeded, and when has it failed? ASEAN’s history is understood in terms of a realist theoretical logic, focusing on the relationship between an ASEAN state with the most compelling interests at stake in a given issue, which I call a ‘vanguard state,’ and selected external powers. Using case study analysis, this thesis contends that a convergence in interests between an ASEAN vanguard state and an external actor will cause the success of ASEAN vanguard state resistance to sovereignty violation. Conversely, an absence of convergence will cause the failure of ASEAN vanguard state resistance to sovereignty violation. As will be shown, this view represents a serious challenge to much of the existing scholarship on ASEAN, which is polarised. Constructivist scholars celebrate ASEAN’s ability to uphold the principle of regional autonomy against challenges by external powers. Yet, in practice, this autonomy has been repeatedly violated. In contrast, realist scholars take a contrary stance. However, this group has difficulty explaining ASEAN’s record of success in resisting intervention by external powers. A third approach, focusing on critical theory, attempts to explain patterns of sovereignty and intervention. This theory’s overwhelming focus on domestic factors ignores a variety of other critical factors that can more adequately explain state behaviour. By recognising the dual and important role of ASEAN and external powers, this dissertation makes a distinct contribution to the scholarship on the international relations of Asia. ASEAN is neither as central to Asia’s international relations, nor as peripheral, as the current literature contends.
Advisor: Khoo, Nicholas
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Politics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: ASEAN; Sovereignty; Intervention; Southeast Asia
Research Type: Thesis