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Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in Southeast Asia

Treaty Title

Explanatory Memorandum for the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in Southeast Asia

Command Paper Number: 7196  

Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, as amended by the First Protocol amending the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, 1987, and the Second Protocol amending the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, 1998  (PDF, 142 kb) 

Subject Matter

The Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in Sothheast Asia (TAC) binds together the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Burma, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam).

The original Member States of ASEAN signed the Treaty on 24 February 1976 and it entered into force on 21 June 1976. Its purpose is to promote peace, stability and co-operation in Southeast Asia. The TAC contains provisions to enhance co-operation in economic, trade, social and scientific matters. The TAC also contains the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of one another as well as the mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations. The TAC is essentially a political declaration of intent in these areas in a treaty format, however the UK would not be required to change any existing laws or practices.

While the TAC was originally designed to apply only to States within the Southeast Asian region, it was amended in 1987 to allow for States outside the region to accede to it. States outside the region that have acceded to the TAC are: Papua New Guinea, China; India; Japan; Pakistan; Republic of Korea; the Russian Federation; Mongolia; New Zealand; Australia; East Timor; France.

In July 2006 EU Member States agreed to initiate proceedings towards the accession of the EU and the European Community to the TAC. However the TAC will first need to be amended further to allow for the accession of non-states. It is therefore unlikely that EU and EC accession will take place before the end of the year. As stated above, France has already acceded to the TAC bilaterally.

The government proposes that the UK should accede to the Treaty.

Ministerial Responsibility

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has overall responsibility for the conclusion and implementation of treaty obligations.

Political Considerations

(1) General

The emergence of India and China is reshaping the political architecture in East Asia. ASEAN plays a central role within this changing architecture – establishing the East Asia Summit as a first step towards an East Asia Community. ASEAN is moving towards closer integration, by the end of 2007 it hopes to establish a charter, which will strengthen its structures and give it legal personality.

It is in the UK’s interest to engage with ASEAN as their role develops and their influence in the region increases. ASEAN welcomes greater UK and EU involvement as important players with an interest in the economic and political security of the region and has urged the UK to demonstrate engagement and commitment to the region by acceding to their flagship Treaty, as France did.

UK accession to the TAC will raise the UK’s profile within South East Asia. It will reinforce the already strong and long-standing political and trade relationships that the UK has with most of the countries in the region.

(2) Financial

There would be no additional costs arising from ratification.

(3) Reservations and Declarations

On accession to the TAC, the UK will write to the Chair of ASEAN formally recording our understanding of the TAC. This ensures that UK accession to the TAC will not affect the UK’s rights and obligations under other bilateral or multilateral agreements, that the TAC is to be interpreted in conformity with the principles of the UN Charter and that the TAC will not apply to, nor affect the UK’s relationship with States outside Southeast Asia.

Implementation

No specific legislation is needed to implement the Treaty.

Consultations

Relevant UK government departments were consulted regarding UK accession to the TAC, no objections were raised. ASEAN Member States were consulted through the Philippines as Chair of the ASEAN Standing Committee who has extended a formal invitation for the UK to accede to the TAC.

Presented to Parliament: July 2007


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