ASEAN countries are slow in integration due to low "trust-level". The Asean Charter may help to overcome such birth pains.
Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno said the slow fulfillment of the integration in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is caused by the members' low "trust-level" in foreigners and their irreconcilable viewpoints regarding human rights.
During the Philippine Judicial Academy and the Asean Law Association lecture on the Asean Charter, Mr. Puno said the regional integration is getting mixed reviews "from pundits... because [it is] turtle-paced."
He said however "I'd like to believe that even its members adopted this strategy as a dictation (sic) of necessity."
He noted that these countries have to protect their sovereignty "with extraordinary jealousy," stressing that "these states have long histories of colonial exploitation by Western countries. These long years of exploitation have left scars in their subconscious which affect their trust level with foreigners. They will always greet other states with question marks, always with the suspicion that the plots to subjugate them politically or economically have not completely stopped."
He said that this barrier can also be felt between the member countries. "They resist even the slightest diminution of the policy of self-determination and non-interference on political affairs," he noted.
Another factor is different viewpoints on human rights due to the ethnic, cultural and religious heterogeneity in the region. "Some states in the region want first to enhance economic, social and cultural rights as a condition for the realization of other rights. They emphasize the right to food, to education, to shelter and deemphasize the political rights of their people," he said.
He noted however that with the Asean Charter, integration will overcome such birth pains.
"More importantly, the Charter is now more people oriented. For the first time, it has set out norms of behavior for member-states to follow in dealing with their citizens. In any language, that will strengthen the universal right to human dignity of some one-half billion people in the region," he said.
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Business World ASEAN integration going slow due to trust issues 19 February 2010