Alt Title

Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Japan, and the United States in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Thomas, M. Ladd

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


ASEAN Regional Forum; National security--Asia; National security--Pacific Area


This study is about the emergence of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) as a multilateral security regime in the Asia-Pacific region. Using the constructivist approach in explaining the formation of regimes, it attempts to account for the slow evolution and low level of institutionalization of the ARF by looking at how the identities and roles of three important actors in the Forum—ASEAN, Japan, and the United States—have affected the Forum's evolution. The study focuses on the views, policies, and security strategies of these actors and examines to what extent these factors have affected the negotiations within the ARF concerning its norms, principles, structure, and mechanisms. The main thesis of this study is that the constructivist approach provides a more complete picture in explaining the ARF's development, compared to the realist and neoliberal approaches. Specifically, the ARF's slow evolution and its low level of institutionalization may be explained by two important variables: first, the existing cognitive divergence among the actors with regard to the aims and purposes of the ARF, which thus far has effectively limited the institutionalization of security cooperation in the region; and second, ASEAN's central role in the Forum, which has allowed it to mold the Forum in its “image” and identity, and to steer the course of its future direction. The ARF is still very much in search of a form and has yet to satisfy the principles of nondiscrimination, indivisibility, and diffused reciprocity. Neither does it fit neatly into any of the “ideal types” of multilateralism: not as a collective security arrangement where an “all-for-one” commitment among participants exists, nor as a Deutschean pluralistic security community where members have a high degree of “like-mindedness” and “mutually created identity.” The theoretical insights drawn from this study include: (1) the importance of understanding the cultural context of an emerging regional security regime in East Asia; (2) the significant role of ideas and identity in the process of negotiating the norms and principles of a nascent post-Cold War regional order; and (3) how multilateralism provides a new context for defense bilateralism in the Asia-Pacific.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [371]-400).


x, 400 pages




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