This thesis was based on the empirical observation that there has been no war between two members of ASEAN since its establishment in 1967. The “Peace of ASEAN” is quite impressive considering the region's mosaic of political, economic, religious, social and cultural diversity, the many potential conflicts in the region, and the lack of any strong multilateral security institution. Does this mean that the ten Southeast Asian countries belong to a peaceful community that has renounced the use of force as a means of resolving intra-regional conflicts? The concept of “security community” describes a group of states that have developed a habit of peaceful interaction and ruled out the use of force in settling disputes with other members of the group. As this concept sees international relations as a process of social learning and identity formation, driven by transactions, interactions and socialization, this thesis suggests one vehicle through which empirically address this question: by studying transnational expert networks operating in “Track 2” diplomacy, a process which seek to inform or influence policy by bringing officials in their personal capacity together with non-governmental experts to discuss regional problems. As Track 2 networks are grappled with the inter-linkage between official and unofficial channels of diplomacy, it can be fruitful to analyze Track 2 within the framework of the epistemic community approach. This implies an analysis of the relationship between Track 2 actors and decision-makers and to which extent this relationship have contributed to enhancing a security community by providing decision-makers with ideas and approaches on how to maintain peace. The logic is that frequent transnational networking, socialization and community-building across state boundaries will lead to a sense of community and absence of war. The research question that guided this study was: “How and to what extent has Track 2 diplomacy influenced the ASEAN Peace?”
The aim was to describe the organisation and function of one particular case of Track 2 diplomacy, the ASEAN-ISIS network, to explore the relationship and interaction between Track 2 actors and decision-makers, and contribute to explain the outcome of this process, namely an international community that might develop a pacific disposition. The analysis has provided a strengthened view to the significance of ASEAN-ISIS as a political agent. Through reiterate workshops, conferences and seminars they developed a common understanding of the problem and solutions on how to solve this problem. Then new ideas and policy recommendations have been introduced to official decision-makers from analysts and social scientists within the setting of ASEAN-ISIS. An interesting finding is that ASEAN governments have adopted many of their recommendations and put them into action. A good case in point is the network’s role in the establishment of the ASEAN Regional Forum.