Working Paper
Black cat, white cat

Lessons to be learned from ASEAN

There is general agreement at present that the Southern African Development Community needs to re-imagine itself and breathe new life into its somewhat moribund structure.

The European Union is often presented as the textbook example to be followed by other regional associations—a rules-based, heavily bureaucratic, and powerful supranational institutional structure to which individual nations have ceded sovereignty in several spheres (most notably the economy). At the other end of the integration spectrum sits the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Based on Confucian values and culture, it emphasizes harmony, group above individual, and pragmatism above rules.

In this paper, some of the key elements of the Association and its operationalization are considered, not as recommendations or a systematic alternative guide to reconsidering the conceptual basis of the Southern African Development Community’s regional integration efforts, but simply as a potential catalyst for discussion and thinking about problems from a different perspective.