By Kyodo News
30 August 2016
Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang suggested Tuesday that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations adjust its long-held practice of applying the principle of consensus in the 10-member bloc’s decision making so as to be able to deal better with contentious regional issues.
Quang, who made the remarks at a lecture during his visit to Singapore, said Asean should consider “supplementing” its consensus-based principle with other aspects so as to ensure flexibility in tackling issues that require decision-making.
While he did not elaborate on possible alternatives, diplomats said that he was probably referring to a majority vote and that the move comes amid the backdrop of Asean’s difficulty in making group decisions and issuing joint statements in recent years on contentious issues such as the South China Sea territorial dispute that has fiercely split members.
“Asean is an organisation that plays a critically important role in the settlement of regional issues,” he said through a Vietnamese-English interpreter at a lecture organised by a Singapore state-run think tank, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Yusof Ishak Institute.
“We all know that the principle of consensus is clearly enshrined in the charter of Asean. And this principle has been and will continue to uphold its role in the building of a strong and prosperous Asean community,” he said.
“Nevertheless in addition to the principle of consensus, regarding the newly emerging issues in order to ensure flexibility and effectiveness of handling of issues within the Asean community, we believe that it is possible for countries of Asean to consider and supplement a number of other principles as a supplementary to the principle of consensus in Asean,” he added.
Quang was responding to a postlecture question from a Vietnamese academic based at the think tank who sought his view on Asean’s role in light of “some negative developments that seem to have undermined Asean’s centrality in regional affairs.”
The South China Sea Dialogues: https://seasresearch.wordpress.com/category/events-and-analyses/the-south-china-sea-dialogues/
Treaties, Agreements and Joint Statements: https://seasresearch.wordpress.com/category/official-positions-and-legal-instruments/treaties-agreements-and-joint-statements/