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For ASEAN, collective security is key to future

As the group marks its 50th anniversary, security concerns loom as a deeply divisive issue

| China
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The flag of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, on the far right, stands with those of the bloc's 10 members.   © Reuters

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was initially forged as a mechanism for managing collective security and so it is fitting that after a half century of existence, the organization should be judged on how successful it has managed the region's security.

One of ASEAN's founding fathers, Thanat Khoman, who was Thai foreign minister in the 1960s, came of age during World War II and recognized that Southeast Asia was prone to being trampled underfoot by clashing major powers. As a result, he proposed that all the countries of the region should work together. "If they succeed not only will each and every one of them be spared from destruction, but the region as a whole will emerge as a strong and free community, capable of serving its own interests as well as those of the world at large," he stated.

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