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Defining ASEAN’s role in peace operations: Helping to bring peacebuilding “upstream”?

Abstract Contemporary peace operations have evolved tremendously from the traditional peacekeeping operations of only a couple of decades ago, with peacekeeping objectives increasingly encompassed within a broader peacebuilding agenda. It is against this backdrop that this paper attempts to take stock of the current attitudes towards peace operations in Southeast Asia and to forge a way forward for ASEAN states’ more active engagement within the region and more specifically, with the broader emerging peacebuilding agenda. ASEAN States have often come under criticism for their limited engagement in peace operations. For example, it has been noted that although approximately 40% of armed conflicts have occurred in the wider Asian region, justover 10% of multilateral peace operations have been undertaken there. In the case of Southeast Asia, this is often put down to political and strategic factors – in particular, strong adherence to a traditional understanding of state sovereignty and non-interference. At the same time, however,it must be acknowledged that ASEAN countries have not been completely passive vis-à-vis involvement in regional and international peace operations. In particular, Indonesia, Malaysia andthe Philippines have substantial experience in the provision of uniformed peacekeeping personnel globally. Where ASEAN states have engaged militarily however, it is observed…

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