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The ASEAN Regional Forum: from dialogue to practical security cooperation?

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This article examines to what extent the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF) has moved beyond dialogue to practical security co-operation. Focusing on terrorism, maritime security and disaster relief as key areas of ARF activities in the past few years, the paper offers four arguments: first, while the ARF primarily remains a forum for regional security dialogues and confidence building, its participants have slowly become prepared to proceed with practical security co-operation, albeit only in limited ways. To the extent that desktop and field exercises take place under ARF auspices, most have been organized in the area of disaster relief. This implies, second, that for the most part ARF participants are still pursuing capacity building and operational security responses outside the Forum. Third, the ARF's cautious embrace of practical co-operation is not the outcome of ASEAN's exercise of diplomatic centrality but the result of initiatives pursued by a small group of ASEAN and some non-ASEAN states. Fourth, at least in the short term, any expectations that participants might organize significantly more demanding practical activities under ARF auspices are premature.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/25243/

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