UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

ASEAN's diplomatic strategy after the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea Darmono, Juanita Amanda


This thesis examines the diplomatic strategy adopted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in response to the 1978 Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and the subsequent shift in the regional distribution of power with regard to the security of the ASEAN nations. I argue that ASEAN has demonstrated considerable success in preventing a collapse of regional order in Southeast Asia. It is important to understand that ASEAN is a product and tool of its members' foreign policy and should therefore be assessed in the foreign policy, rather than in the regional integrationist, context. This will be examined from the point of view of a group of relatively weak, insignificant states within the international arena, historically plagued by conflict and intervention by external powers, exacerbated by a history of intra-regional enmity rather than cooperation, military weakness, and no collective tradition of diplomatic expertise. Yet, despite these shortcomings and ASEAN's previous inability to come together on issues of economic integration, ASEAN's response to the Third Indochina conflict has allowed its member nations to maintain their independence, preserve their freedom of action, rally international support, and confront the great powers involved in this issue through the use of a regional organization. This thesis will also counter the prevailing view that existing intra-ASEAN differences regarding the primary external threat in the issue (namely Vietnam, China or the Soviet Union) have seriously divided its members to the point of potentially threatening the organization's existence. Instead, I will argue that the combination of ASEAN's curious mode of "conflict resolution" through "conflict avoidance", as well as its diplomatic "division of labour," have effectively incorporated existing intra-ASEAN differences as bargaining assets for the organization's political viability. These internal cleavages have been far from resolved or reconciled, but rather skirted over by a web of unwritten laws, implicit rules and mutual understandings regarding one another's accepted role within the organization. This implicit "regime" has served several purposes: it has allowed ASEAN to sustain its image of unity, boosted its political visability in the international forum, and prevented the "loss of face" of fellow members on points of contention. Research for this thesis was conducted in part at the ASEAN Secretariat and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Jakarta, and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.