In recognition of the fundamental importance of improving the livelihoods and well-being of the peoples of Southeast Asia, and the need to promote ASEAN awareness as well as people-to-people contact through scholarships, fellowships and other exchanges, the Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed to establish the ASEAN Foundation on 15 December 1997 in Kuala Lumpur during the Association’s 30th Anniversary Commemorative Summit. The ultimate aim was to help bring about shared prosperity and a sustainable future to all ASEAN countries which comprises of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.
The ASEAN Foundation from its inception was given a twin objectives reflected in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of the ASEAN Foundation which is:
- The Foundation shall promote greater awareness of ASEAN, and greater interaction among the peoples of ASEAN as well as their wider participation in ASEAN's activities inter alia through human resources development that will enable them to realize their full potential and capacity to contribute to progress of ASEAN Member States as productive and responsible members of society.
- The Foundation shall also endeavor to contribute to the evolution of a development cooperation strategy that promotes mutual assistance, equitable economic development, and the alleviation of poverty.
From the MoU, the ASEAN Foundation mandates can be recapitulate as follows;
- Promoting ASEAN Awareness and Identity
- Enhancing Interaction among Various ASEAN Stakeholders
- Developing Human Resources and Capacity Building
- Addressing Socio-Economic Disparities and Alleviating Poverty
On the other hand the ASEAN Charter has given the ASEAN Foundation further mandates as reflected in Article-15 of the ASEAN Charter which is to;
- Support the Secretary-General of ASEAN and
- Collaborate with the relevant ASEAN bodies to support ASEAN community building
Subsequently, the Vientiane Action Programme (2004-2010) adopted at the ASEAN Summit in November 2004, pursued the comprehensive integration of ASEAN towards the realization of an open, dynamic and resilient ASEAN Community by the end of 2015. It specifically called for strengthening the role of the ASEAN Foundation under the political development section of the respective documents in the context of increasing the participation by various ASEAN bodies in moving forward ASEAN political development initiatives through promotion of more people-to-people contacts.
Download ASEAN Foundation MoU.