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Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2019

3 December 2018 from 9:00 - 4 December 2018 from 9:00

From 3-4 December 2018, CPG and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Regional Programme, Asia Dialogue, Singapore will host the international conference “Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2019” at Banyan Tree Hotel, Bangkok

Conference agenda (PDF)

Concept Note

1. Background

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which only recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, is facing a situation today appearing more challenging than at any point during the first 50 years of its existence. Pressure is put onto the community from inside and out.

Tensions arise due to often correlating factors against the background of geopolitical shifts, as well as social, economic and political factors within ASEAN’s member states. ASEAN on the one hand faces changes brought about by the increasingly active role the People’s Republic of China plays in the region and how its member states react to it. On the other hand, many member states undergo significant changes internally, which do not always result in favourable terms for ASEAN. A narrow definition of national interest has taken root in some countries, reducing the chances of meaningful cooperation on a regional level. To be sure, ASEAN has always been predicated on strong national interests by its member states, but regional leaders have long managed to find strength in cooperation and realized that unity often makes for better answers than individual responses. This approach is no longer unchallenged.

The ASEAN way and ASEAN’s greater institutional set-up dictates that the association’s success and relevance is dependent upon strong and favourable leadership. Primus inter pares among the ten leaders is the ASEAN Chair, who rotates annually and officially organises, hosts and leads all ASEAN institutions and meetings. The chair is also setting the agenda, acts as ASEAN’s spokesperson and crucially, is in the position (and responsibility) to informally forge consensus among the members. In other words, it is a most crucial position to drive ASEAN forward and promote its often-cited centrality. Thailand will be taking over the chairmanship from Singapore in 2019.

2. Rationale

The rationale behind the international conference on ASEAN’s future is essentially twofold. It is to provide an overview of both external and internal challenges ASEAN is facing when Thailand is taking over the chairmanship. It will convene policy-makers, experts, professionals and diplomats in order to create a comprehensive picture of what ASEAN’s immediate and near future is likely to look like. Secondly, it is intended to provide a forum for Thai officials to discuss their plans and main agenda items for its chairmanship, as well as function as an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with the plans and raise issues that ought to be included or considered.

3. Format

The event will start with an opening evening and welcome dinner for all speakers and special guests and then be followed by two full conference days with keynote remarks, moderated panel discussions and interviews.

4. Outcomes

  • Provide an overview of current ASEAN issues and challenges.
  • Raise awareness for opportunities of regional solutions to regional problems.
  • Link Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs preparations for the chairmanship with stakeholders across ASEAN.
  • Increase regional ownership and coordination of various political and security challenges.
  • Help create a positive vision and leadership for an effective Thai chairmanship in 2019.
  • Provide an opportunity for exchange between ASEAN and its partners.
  • Formulate a number of policy recommendations based on conference outcomes.

5. Conference topics

  • The Greater Picture: The Geopolitical Context of ASEAN Regionalism
  • External Powers and ASEAN
  • ASEAN Challenges I: ASEAN and China Cooperation
  • ASEAN Challenges II: Terrorism
  • Southeast Asia’s Political Outlook – Visions, Values and Models of Governance
  • ASEAN Economy: Economic Challenges & Potentials
  • Vision and Leadership: How to secure ASEAN relevance

6. Confirmed speakers (as of 1 Nov)

  • H.E. Kasit Piromya, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, Thailand
  • H.E. Marty Natalegawa, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Indonesia
  • Praipol Koomsup, Professor of Economics, Faculty of Economics, Thammasat University, Thailand
  • Don Emmerson, Head of Southeast Asia Program, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University
  • Mark Thompson, Head, Department of Asian and International Studies, City University of Hong Kong, China
  • You Ji, Head, Department of Government and Public Administration, University of Macau, China
  • Carlyle A. Thayer, Emeritus Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Canberra, Australia
  • Christian Wagner, Senior Fellow, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin, Germany
  • Tang Siew Mun, Head, ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS-Yosuf Ishak Institute, Singapore
  • Nicholas Khoo, Professor of Politics, Department of Politics, University of Otago, New Zealand
  • Prashant Parmeswaran, Senior Editor, The Diplomat, USA
  • Deborah Elms, Executive Director, Asian Trade Centre, Singapore
  • Gullnaz Baig, Counterterrorism Policy Lead, Asia-Pacific, Facebook
  • Cameron Sumpter, Associate Research Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore


The event is free of charge and open to the public.

For more information, please contact us via events@cpg-online.de (Venus)


3 December 2018 from 9:00
4 December 2018 from 9:00


Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Singapore


Banyan Tree
South Sathorn Rd.
Bangkok, Thailand
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