The object of this study has been twofold, first to explore the potential for a security regime in the Asia Pacific region. Secondly to analyse the formation of the ASEAN Regional Forum as a possible candidate for becoming a multilateral construct that enables the Asian Pacific area to manage and control threats to regional security.
Asia, although steeped in the same cold-war confrontation as the rest of the world, never saw the same tendency towards multilateralism and co-operative efforts after the end of the Second World War as in Europe. In this region a distinctly different pattern emerged with regards to both security and trade. A much stronger focus was put on bilateral agreements, and subsequently the region never developed a strong multilateral tradition.
The end to the forty-year long conflict between the two superpowers radically changed the security environment in the Asia-Pacific. Although not locked into cold war as firmly as in Europe, the conflict dominated intra-regional politics for almost half a decade. The new environment opened up for contacts previously unthinkable, resulting, amongst other things, in Vietnam and Cambodia s entry into the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Soviet Union, now the Russian Federation, ceased to exist as a credible actor in the area, and new major powers stepped into the light. Foremost of these has been the People s Republic of China. After experiencing a long period of economic recovery and growth since Deng s coming to power in the 70s, China now represents the new Great Power in the area, giving smaller neighbours concerns about its intentions in the future.
In exploring the potential for the formation of a security regime in the Asia Pacific I have used Robert Jervis writing on conditions for forming a security regime as my point of departure. Based on these conditions I have formed hypotheses that specify expected findings in the region given that there is fertile ground for a regime.
Based on these findings I move on to analyse the ASEAN Regional Forum in order to explore what role it plays, and can play in the region.
I find that there is, according to Jervis conditions, still no solid basis on which to build a viable OSCE -like security regime in the Pacific. However, even though there is no basis for a highly institutionalised and legalistic structure in line with European traditions, there appears to be an understanding that development must be incremental.
To appraise the ARF justly, one has to consider two vital elements: the region s historical context, and traditions related to state interaction. This is a region that has little or no experience with multilateralism. The formation of the ARF was in itself a quantum leap in this respect. The ARF is a construct that is adapted to the realities of the regional environment, taking into consideration the region s historical background, as well as being sensitive to the more cautious participants fears. The challenge for its further development will be to find a viable route that will satisfy the more active members in their demands for more concrete results on the one hand, and the more cautious on the other.