Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional inter-governmental organization to promote regional peace and security and to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development. It was founded by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand on August 8, 1967, and was later joined by Brunei (1984), Vietnam (1995), Burma and Laos (1997) and Cambodia (1999). After the East Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, leaders of each country felt the need to further integrate the region. Beginning in 1997, the bloc began creating organisations within its framework with the intention of achieving this goal. “ASEAN Plus Three” was the first of these and was created to improve existing ties with the People's Republic of China, Japan, and South Korea. This was followed by the even larger East Asia Summit, which now includes these countries as well as India, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Russia. This new grouping acted as a prerequisite for the planned East Asia Community. Furthermore, In 1992, the ASEAN Heads of State and Government declared that ASEAN should intensify its external  dialogues in political and security matters as a means of building cooperative ties with States in the Asia Pacific region. Two years later, the ASEAN Regional  Forum (ARF) was established. The current participants in the ARF are as follows: all the ASEAN members, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, the People's Republic of China, the European Union, India, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, East Timor, United States and Sri Lanka.

Editor: Giovanni AVERSA