Regional organisations and humanitarian action: the case of ASEAN

Working and discussion papers
October 2014
Lilianne Fan and Hanna Krebs
With recent crises and disasters in Asia, it is more important than ever for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the region's 10-member inter-governmental organisation, to assess how they can help respond to humanitarian crises.

While ASEAN is not designed to function like traditional aid actors, it has unique strengths in bringing together humanitarian actors in this disaster-prone region of the world. Yet there are gaps in its current approach. This paper looks at key questions around ASEAN's humanitarian response, including how do ASEAN's principles of non-interference and consensus apply to its humanitarian efforts? How has ASEAN actually responded to humanitarian crises and how were these responses perceived by other actors? 

Through exploring ASEAN's response to humanitarian crises such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines as well as Cyclone Nargis and the Rakhine State crisis in Myanmar, this Working Paper seeks to understand ASEAN's unique position and suggests ways forward for the regional body to address man-made, as well as natural, crises in the region.