Myanmar Crisis: ASEAN Vetos Myanmar’s Membership 

The Myanmar crisis was at the forefront of this year’s ASEAN summit, being the top agenda point on the first day. Two years ago, ASEAN adopted a five-point consensus (5PC) urgently calling for an immediate cessation of violence – a commitment that Myanmar junta chief, Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, had agreed to support in April 20211. Progress, however, has been limited. In February 2022, ASEAN took additional measures by suspending Myanmar’s membership indefinitely. Yet, as of September 7, 2023, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, reported that over 4,000 people had been killed and over 24,000 arbitrarily arrested2. Given the persistent and volatile conflict, ASEAN leaders at their recent summit agreed to veto Myanmar’s scheduled chairmanship of the group in 2026 until further notice3. In August, prior to the summit, Timor Leste, which had accepted ASEAN membership late last year, expressed reconsideration due to the group’s inability to convince the military to end violence4, ultimately questioning ASEAN’s ability and validity.  


ASEAN’s perceived lack of action has invited public criticism and international pressure on the group to play a more active role. While critics have taken a cynical view of ASEAN’s actions, (or lack thereof), Indonesia has received praise for its role in “preventing the military junta from chairing ASEAN and maintaining the bloc’s isolation of the brutal regime”5. However, this situation also presents a significant security challenge for the region. China has seized this opportunity to enhance its security presence, potentially positioning it for future leverage. This development should raise concerns within ASEAN4. While Indonesia is dedicated to maintaining peace and stability in the region, China’s increasing ‘strategic’ military influence in Myanmar has the potential to destabilise the area, if China chooses to do so. 

[1] Human Rights Watch. (2022), “Myanmar: ASEAN’s Failed ‘5-Point Consensus’ a Year On”, April 22. Retrieved:

[2] Shofa, Jayanty. (2023), “ASEAN Establishes New Troika to Find Solution on Myanmar Crisis”. Jakarta Globe, September 8. Retrieved:

[3] Tanamal, Yvette. (2023), “ASEAN bars Myanmar from 2026 chairmanship”, The Jakarta Post, September 6. Retrieved:

[4] Harding, Brian. & Tower, Jason. (2023), “Myanmar’s Crisis Looms Over the ASEAN Summit”, United States Institute of Peace, September 7. Retrieved:

[5] Purba, Kornelius. (2023), “The G20 and ASEAN leadership crowns Jokowi’s presidency”, The Jakarta Post, September 12. Retrieved:


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