In the light of criticism of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), it is useful to re-visit the critical elements behind its establishment. The ARF was conceived as a process, not an institution. It focused on building mutual trust and sought to develop norms through confidence building measures (CBMs). The objective was to create a more predictable and stable pattern of relationships between major powers and Southeast Asia. Implicit in its conceptualization was the recognition that regional issues required the engagement of the great powers in regional affairs. The ARF introduced a new norm into the ASEAN process of cooperative security that emphasized inclusiveness through the promotion of dialogue among both like-minded and non-like-minded states.
PacNet #36 – The Future of the ASEAN Regional Forum
September 7, 2001