Start date: 2019
Areas of expertise: Law of the Sea, Public International Law, Environmental Law
Highlights: 1 project, workshops, webinars and comparative research studies


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has played and continues to play a crucial role in strengthening cooperation and coordination between Southeast Asian states, as well as between them and third states. ASEAN is a regional intergovernmental organisation established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok with the primary objectives to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to promote regional peace and stability. The ASEAN Charter entered into force on 15 December 2008, and provides the current legal status and institutional framework of ASEAN. Since the foundation of ASEAN, all Southeast Asian states, except for Timor-Leste for which membership is still pending, joined ASEAN to facilitate social and economic cooperation in the region and to achieve regional resilience, including by strengthening maritime governance in a number of strategic areas.

A uniform and consistent implementation of the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), together with the peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with Part XV of UNCLOS and Article 33 of the UN Charter, would significantly contribute to build long-lasting peace and security in the ASEAN Region, and in maintaining and promoting stability, rule of law and freedom of navigation. The centrality of UNCLOS in achieving maritime peace and security in the ASEAN Region has been emphatically affirmed by ASEAN. For example, the Joint Declaration of the ASEAN Defence Ministers on Defence Cooperation for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN (December 2020) acknowledged that the 1982 UNCLOS sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, and also affirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including UNCLOS. Previously, in June 2020, Foreign Ministers of ASEAN Member States stressed the importance of ensuring compliance with UNCLOS, which was described as ‘the overarching framework of legal order for the seas that must be respected by all countries’.

The Foundation has been active with ASEAN since 2019, working on various topics within the law of the sea and with numerous project partners in response to the unique context, needs and interests of ASEAN Member States. This builds on the Foundation’s previous experience and expertise in the area of the law of the sea, including in Southeast Asia and South Asia.

Current projects with ASEAN

Completed projects with ASEAN