The government of Indonesia this week hosted the biannual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and meetings with its international dialogue partners.
The conversations make real the idea of “ASEAN Centrality” — that the organization is the primary venue for discussion of regional concerns, not only among member nations, but among outside countries as well.
That concept is under increasing challenge, threatened by deepening conflict between the United States and China that usurps ASEAN’s authority and internal divisions that reduce its ability to address regional concerns. The organization’s inability to deal with those problems contributes to its marginalization, evident in the absence of several world leaders from this week’s meetings. ASEAN must arrest this decline.