ASEAN Beyond 2015: The Imperatives for Further Institutional Changes
While ASEAN recognises the need to strengthen its institutions, as reflected in its commitment to undertake greater institutionalisation efforts mandated by the ASEAN Charter, the willingness of member states to rely on regional institutions is still circumscribed by strong attachment to the principle of sovereignty and preference for maintaining unity amid regional diversity. In that context, the idea of constructing a supra-national authority -which requires the shifting of the locus of decision-making from national capital to a regional bureaucracy-- has never been an attractive option for any ASEAN member state. The reliance on regional institutions is accepted as long as it would not undermine national sovereignty and endanger regional unity. In this context, ASEAN's institutionalisation will continue to reflect member states' dilemma in reconciling the need for strong and effective regional institutions on the one hand and the overriding concerns over maintaining national autonomy and preserving regional diversity on the other. The imperative of deeper regional integration, however, would make it more difficult for ASEAN to escape the need for further institutional changes.