ASEAN's response to the East Timor crisis

Alan Dupont

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    East Timor's bloody transition to independence has profoundly affected Australia's relations with Indonesia and the stability of the Indonesian state, which is being buffeted by sectarian fighting, ethnic conflict and separatist violence in Aceh, West Papua (Irian Jaya) and many other parts of the archipelago. The ripple effects of these disturbances are being felt beyond Indonesia's shores, especially in neighbouring states, which are only just emerging from the shock of the worst economic recession in Southeast Asia's modern history. For the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indonesia's current travails could not have come at a worse time. Chastised by Western critics for having done little to mitigate the effects of the prolonged economic downturn, ASEAN's response to the East Timor crisis is seen, by critics and supporters alike, as a major test of the organisation's ability to ameliorate and manage regional conflicts. This article examines the underlying political and strategic concerns that are driving ASEAN's approach to East Timor. Although wary of alienating Indonesia and of being drawn into the East Timor imbroglio, ASEAN has nevertheless demonstrated a preparedness to play a significant political and military role in regional conflict management. ASEAN's willingness to invest in East Timor and to accept East Timor as a member state will be an even more crucial test of the organisation's efficacy and relevance. Without sustained economic support from Southeast Asia, it will be difficult for East Timor to survive and prosper. A weak, isolated East Timor could easily become an island of instability in an already troubled sea
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)163-170
    JournalAustralian Journal of International Affairs
    Volume54
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2000

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