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The ASEAN Declaration states that the aims and purposes of the Association are: (1) to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavors in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations, and (2) to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter. In 1995, the ASEAN Heads of State and Government re-affirmed that “Cooperative peace and shared prosperity shall be the fundamental goals of ASEAN.”

Fundamental Principles

The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia, signed at the First ASEAN Summit on 24 February 1976, declared that in their relations with one another, the High Contracting Parties should be guided by the following fundamental principles:
Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations;
The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion, or coercion;
Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;
Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner;
Renunciation of the threat or use of force; and
Effective cooperation among themselves.

Political Cooperation

The TAC stated that ASEAN political and security dialogue and cooperation should aim to promote regional peace and stability by enhancing regional resilience. Regional resilience shall be achieved by cooperating in all fields based on the principles of self-confidence, self-reliance, mutual respect, cooperation, and solidarity, which shall constitute the foundation for a strong and viable community of nations in Southeast Asia.

Verification and Compliance

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is an important multilateral forum for political and security consultations and cooperation. The ARF has begun to explore activities where there is overlap between confidence-building measures and preventive diplomacy. ASEAN Member States are urged to settle disputes through friendly negotiations applying the procedures of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) of 1976. However, the Member States are not obliged to use the Treaty stipulations for the peaceful settlement of disputes. In case a State resorts to the use of force, no system of collective security is foreseen.

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