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Reference: Lee Jones, (2009). ASEAN, social conflict and intervention in Southeast Asia. DPhil. University of Oxford.Citable link to this page:


ASEAN, social conflict and intervention in Southeast Asia

Abstract: This thesis challenges the prevailing academic and journalistic consensus that ASEAN states, bound by a cast-iron norm of non-interference, do not intervene in other states’ internal affairs. It argues that ASEAN states have frequently engaged in acts of intervention, often with very serious, negative consequences. Using methods of critical historical sociology, the thesis reconstructs the history of ASEAN’s non-interference principle and interventions from ASEAN’s inception onwards, drawing on sources including ASEAN and UN documents, US and UK archives, and policymaker interviews. It focuses especially on three case studies: East Timor, Cambodia, and Myanmar. The thesis argues that both the emergence of ideologies of non-intervention and their violation can be explained by the social conflicts animating state policies. Non-interference was developed by embattled, authoritarian, capitalist elites in an attempt to bolster their defence of capitalist social order from radical challenges. Where adherence to non-intervention failed to serve this purpose, it was discarded or manipulated to permit cross-border ‘containment’ operations. After communism was defeated in the ASEAN states, foreign policy continued to promote the interests of dominant, state-linked business groups and oligarchic factions. Non-interference shifted to defend domestic power structures from the West’s liberalising agenda. However, ASEAN elites continued meddling in neighbouring states even as containment operations were discarded. This contributed to the collapse of Cambodia’s ruling coalition in 1997, and ASEAN subsequently intervened to restore it. The 1997 Asian financial crisis dealt a crippling blow to ASEAN. To contain domestic unrest in Indonesia, core ASEAN states joined a humanitarian intervention in East Timor in 1999. In the decade since, non-interference has been progressively weakened as the core members struggle to regain domestic legitimacy and lost international political and economic space. This is expressed most clearly in ASEAN’s attempts to insert itself into Myanmar’s democratisation process after decades of failed ‘constructive engagement’.

Digital Origin:Born digital Type of Award:DPhil Level of Award:Doctoral Awarding Institution: University of Oxford Notes:Only the abstract and table of contents of this thesis are currently available in ORA.


Prof Andrew J. HurrellMore by this contributor


 Bibliographic Details

Issue Date: 2009

Copyright Date: 2009 Identifiers

Urn: uuid:c17c8000-e2f2-46c2-a421-5a94a94bea0d Item Description

Type: thesis;

Language: en Keywords: ASEAN intervention non-intervention Cambodia Myanmar Burma East Timor Timor Leste social conflictSubjects: International studies History of Asia & Far East Civil society Conflict Emergencies and humanitarian assistance Refugee camps and settlements Violence (refugees) Political science War (politics) Tiny URL: ora:2904


Autor: Lee Jones - institutionUniversity of Oxford facultySocial Sciences Division - Politics and Internati



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