Insights and Analysis

U.S.-ASEAN Forum on Legal Issues of Regional Importance

May 10, 2017

By Eelynn Sim

Fifty years after its founding, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has forged a successful and enduring union of 10 member states, cultivating a common identity and organizational coherence that are unique within the broader geopolitics of Asia. Efforts to build on achievements to date and fulfill the economic growth potential of an integrated ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) face a number of daunting challenges, including: threats to political stability and security, challenges to the free movement of labor and trade liberalization, pressures on the environment and natural resource base, transnational crime and security, and other issues that result from rapid advancement of digital technology. Each of these challenges share common underpinnings in domestic and regional law and law-making, the administration of justice, and jurisprudence.

U.S.-ASEAN forum.

The Asia Foundation’s women’s empowerment director, Jane Sloane (second from left) speaks on legal frameworks to improve women’s rights during a session at the U.S.-ASEAN forum.

In collaboration with the U.S. Embassy Singapore, The Asia Foundation and the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies brought together over 70 experts from across the region on May 8-9 for a two-day conference in Singapore to discuss legal issues of importance to the ASEAN region. Across seven main sessions and break-out discussions, participants engaged on topics ranging from maritime security, labor migration, and trafficking, to transboundary environmental issues, regional trade, strengthening legal and policy frameworks to advance women’s rights, and cyber-security and data protection.

Welcome remarks were provided by Walter Douglas, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy and for Regional and Security Policy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State; Joseph Liow Chin Yong, professor of Comparative and International Politics and dean, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; and John Brandon, senior director, International Relations Programs with The Asia Foundation. Stay tuned for next week’s blog, where we will be featuring more in-depth takeaways and analysis from the conference. For live tweets and photos from the event, follow #USASEANLaw on Twitter.

Eelynn Sim is The Asia Foundation’s associate director of Global Communications. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and not those of The Asia Foundation or its funders.


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