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ASEAN Agreement

Apr 09, 2018



Lydia Ng Sy
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    ASEAN Agreement on the Conservation of Nature andNatural Resources, 1985: A Study in Environmental


    Kheng Lian Koh


    As this is a Governments and Governance session, I have been asked to examine the ASEAN(Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Agreement 1985 from the viewpoint of environmentalgovernance. This is one of only two ASEAN environmental hard law instruments among over

    20 soft law instruments on theenvironment. The second is the

    ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution, 2002,and a third is in the making thedraft ASEAN Framework Agreement on Access toBiological and Genetic Resources.

    While realization of the 2002agreement in the near future is avery real prospect (it needs onlyone more ratification to achieve

    the necessary six), we may wellask whether the same can be saidfor the 1985 ASEAN Agreement.It continues to lack three of itsneeded six ratifications. However,there is reason to hope, as aTechnical Panel Meeting on theagreement was held from 24 25

    July 2003 in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the matter. At this meeting, Brunei reported that it hadinitiated the process of ratification, while Malaysia and Singapore indicated that the process of ratification was under consideration. This was noted at the 13th meeting of the ASEAN

    Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB) held from 13-15 August2003 in Singapore.

    The fact that it has been some 18 years since the 1985 Agreement was signed has in itself a storyto tell in terms of governance, leading to the following questions: How did the agreement comeabout? Who assisted in the drafting of it? What are the contents of the agreement? Were theprovisions too progressive for member states to implement? Were there other similar sub-regional agreements on conservation and natural resources? Has the global Convention on

    Figure 1. Representatives of member states at the signing of theASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, June2002. (Photo courtesy ASEAN Secretariat.)

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    Biological Diversity 1992 overtaken the agreement in terms of the contents? Is there still a needfor the sub-regional agreement? Have there been other ASEAN initiatives that have nowrendered the agreement outdated, otiose or replaced many of its provisions? Should eachASEAN member state proceed with its own ratification of global conventions and implementthose in accordance with the common but differentiated responsibilities principle? Or should

    ASEAN work towards a harmonized biodiversity strategy under this agreement, together withother ASEAN strategies, programmes and plans of action? Has the ASEAN Way tocooperation among its members been an obstacle to the hard law approach at the sub-regionallevel?

    I think these are relevant questions to consider from the view of governance although I do notknow all the answers. First, what is Governance? As Jeanne Pagnan puts it, governanceincludes management, power and controlwho has it, and how it is exercised, how decisionsare madeand what institutional arrangements are in place 1 .

    History of the ASEAN Agreement, 1985 At the first meeting of the then ASEAN Working Group on Environment (comprising seniorofficials of the Environment in the then member states) held from 18 20 December 1978 inJakarta, Indonesia, the group recommended the development of the agreement. At the fifth

    meeting in 1982 it was felt that further studies were needed, and for this purpose a Workshop of Legal and Technical Experts was held from 3 5 November 1982 in Manila. The IUCNEnvironmental Law Centre and the Commission on Environmental Policy and Administrationprovided technical assistance in drafting the agreement.

    At the sixth meeting of AEGE in 1983, the draft agreement was adopted. It was then signed on 9

    July 1985, by the then six member countries Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines,Singapore and Thailand. To date only three of the six signatory member states (Indonesia, thePhilippines and Thailand) have ratified it. Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei have not. It istherefore not in force.

    At the third IUCN Congress held in October 1996 in Montreal, Resolution 1.60 called for theratification of the ASEAN Agreement by the three ASEAN contracting states that had notratified. At the seventh and eighth meetings of ASOEN (ASEAN Senior Officials on theEnvironment) held from 9-11 September 1996, and 8-11 September 1997, respectively, a callwas made to assess the relevance of the ASEAN Agreement in present context, i.e., in light of several international related conventions like CBD, CMS and CITES.

    The ASEAN Agreement

    The main object of the agreement is the conservation of wild floras, fauna and renewableresources (e.g., soil, vegetation, fisheries) through the protection of ecosystems, habitats andendangered species, and by ensuring sustainable use of harvested resources.

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    The preamble recognizes the interdependence of living resources, between them and with othernatural resources, within ecosystems of which they are part, and calls upon parties to developnational conservation strategies and to coordinate such strategies within the framework of aconservation strategy in the region.

    The agreement has been viewed by many as remarkable and progressive. In the Foreword to Legislation for Implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources: Country Reports (1994), it was stated:

    Its (i.e., the Agreements] provisions reflect the most advanced state of the ar t of conservation and natural resource management at that time. Consequently, it contains a number of concepts whichwere unfamiliar in international agreements and which will call for a high degree of care in their transformation into national legislation.

    The subject matter of the agreement demonstrates a holistic approach that was ahead of its time:

    Chapter II: Conservation of Species and Ecosystems This chapter deals with genetic

    diversity, sustainable use and endangered and endemic species; vegetation andforest resources; and the role of soil, water and air in the functioning of naturalecosystems.

    Chapter III: Conservation of Ecological Processes This chapter deals with environmentaldegradation and pollution.

    Chapter IV: Environmental Planning Measures This chapter deals with land use planning,protected areas and impact assessment.

    Chapter V: National Supporting Measures - This chapter covers scientific research,

    education, information and participation of the public, as well as training andadministrative machinery.

    Chapter VI: International Cooperation This chapter covers matters such as shared resourcesand trans-frontier environmental effects.

    Chapter VII: International Supporting Measures This chapter deals with organizationalmatters such as the meeting of contracting parties, the work of the Secretariat andthe setting up of national agencies for coordination.

    Chapter VIII: Final clauses include adoption of protocols, amendment, settlement of disputes,

    ratification, accession and entry into force.

    The concept of sustainable development was introduced in this 1985 agreement, even beforethe 1987 Brundtland Report ( Our Common Future: The World Commission on Environment and

    Development (WCED)) described it as development that meets the needs of the present withoutcompromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The WCED had starteddeliberations in 1984; it can safely be said that the 1985 ASEAN Agreement provided apreview of the Brundlandt Report in 1987 when it noted in its Preamble that the inter-

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    relationship between conservation and socio-economic development implies both thatconservation is necessary to ensure sustainability of development and that socio-economicdevelopment is necessary for the achievement of conservation on a lasting basis.

    There is little cause to wonder that the agreement was hailed as a progressive instrument, as it

    anticipated some of the concepts and principles of the Brundtland Report and other subsequentinternational environmental instruments adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference onEnvironment and Development (UNCED) at Rio de Janerio, including the Rio Declaration,Agenda 21, the Statement of Principles on Forests, and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

    Equally remarkable is the fact that the agreement proceeds on the fundamental principle(Article 1) that it is binding only to the extent that any adoption of or concerted action in relationto conservation strategies envisaged in the agreement must be within the framework of therespective national laws necessary to maintain essential ecological processes and to preservegenetic diversity. Furthermore, formulae such as shall endeavour (Article 4) and whereverpossible (Article 5(2)) take into consideration the level of development of a member state to

    fulfill its obligations the agreement thus embodies the notion of common but differentiatedresponsibilities (Rio Declaration, Principle 7). As the level of socio-economic development inthe various ASEAN states differs, and as this may affect states capabilities to respond toenvironmental protection, the framework agreement approach allows for flexibility in theimplementation of the agreement.

    The agreement also embodies the concept of polluter pays principle in Article 10(d), whichrecommends parties to make the originator of any activity that downgrades the environmentresponsible for its prevention, reduction and control and also for rehabilitation and remedialmeasures. This notion is found in a number of international instruments, including the RioDeclaration of 1992 (Principle 16).

    Another aspect of the agreement is that it requires careful and innovative implementationmeasures in national legislation. Thus Article 2 calls for an integrated approach to developmentplanning by taking into account the conservation and management of natural resources. Article 4directs parties to develop management plans for maintaining the ecological relationship betweenharvested, dependent and related populations of living resources within ecosystems in order toprevent the diminution of those species. For this purpose, a number of administrative measuresare recommended, such as a permit system.

    The concept of protected areas contained in Article 13 is considered very innovative andsophisticated. It deals with the terrestrial, freshwater, coastal or marine ecosystems of the regionand lays down the criteria for the protection of national parks and reserves. The main thrust of this article is to safeguard the ecological and biological processes essential to the functioning of the ecosystems of the region, including areas of particular importance from scientific,educational, aesthetic or cultural viewpoints. The guidelines suggest an integrated ecosystemapproach and involve the preparation of a management plan and the establishment of bufferzones. This article also calls for the prohibition of exotic species, toxic substances andpollutants, as well as cooperation in the development of principles and objectives and in themanagement of protected areas in the region.

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    The agreement addresses exotic species, which may threaten or harm biodiversity, by providingthat parties shall endeavor not to introduce exotic animal or plant species in protected areasas defined in Article 13. This means exotic species may be allowed outside protected areas. Inthis regard, the agreements provisions seem less broad than those of the CBD, which in Article

    8(h) calls for parties to prevent the introduction of, control of or eradicate those alien specieswhich threaten ecosystems, habitats or species. Such prohibition applies inside and outside the protected areas (Article 8(b)). Is there a potential conflict between the two instruments? TheASEAN Agreement (as well as the CBD) provides for ex situ conservation, such as aforestation,which may involve the introduction of exotic species. Thus, the potential conflict between thetwo instruments may be more theoretical than real. In any case, neither the ASEAN nor theCBD provision on exotics is compulsory, so any theoretical distinction that could be drawnbetween the two is of little or no practical significance.

    As earlier noted, the agreement is holistic as it deals, inter alia , not only with the substantiveissues of conservation but also with processes that conserve the functioning of natural

    ecosystems, such as rejuvenation of vegetation cover and forest resources, soil, water and air.For example, in the case of forests, it addresses the prevention of forest fires and also thedevelopment of reforestation and aforestation plans. It also covers implementation process byaddressing matters such as land use planning, environmental impact assessment, pollutioncontrol, monitoring and environmental quality, education, information and training, internationalcooperation and supporting measures.

    ASEAN Agreement: Building Synergies with CBD and Other BiodiversityMEAs

    The decision whether or not to ratify the agreement has depended in part on whether globalconventions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and environmental policy-making at the global level generally has rendered the agreement irrelevant. This was thequestion posed by the ASOEN in 1996 and 1997 when a call was made to assess the relevance of the agreement in the present context, as by then many ASEAN members had ratified the CBDand also other global conventions relating to biodiversity (see Appendix 1 of the agreement). DrFrancoise Burhenne- Guilmin and I made a presentation to the AWNCB (ASEAN WorkingGroup on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity) in 1997 and recommended that the agreementwas still relevant and should be ratified.

    The ASEAN Agreement and other conventions relating to biodiversity call for conservation

    strategies and effective and wise management in order to achieve sustainability. As the CBDwas a product of Rio, where the concept of sustainable development was given politicallegitimacy, the term was used in the Convention. The ASEAN Agreement is a pre-Rio and pre-Brundtland product, but it had the benefit of technical assistance from IUCN. We thus find somesimilarities of approach. IUCN introduced the concept of sustainable development on thebasis of sustainability for future generations even though the term is not used in the pre-Rioinstruments. The same idea is found in the preamble of Bonn and Ramsar, while otherconventions include this notion in their tenor.

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    In all the conventions, the criteria for setting aside specific ecosystems, critical habitats or otherareas proceed on a combination of the following values: economic, environmental, cultural,scientific, social, ecological, aesthetic, educational, recreational, botanical, zoological,limnological, hydrological, universal, etc. Some of these criteria, for example scientific,

    cultural, and social, appear in virtually all the instruments.

    Some of the overlaps in convention content have been perceived as problems in theimplementation process. Although overlaps of subject matter may pose potential conflicts, theycan nonetheless be harmonized at the implementation level. There may also be problems inadministration where jurisdictions are hitherto sectorial rather than holistic. However, theseoverlapping problems should not militate against their implementation. For example, there areoverlapping provisions in the CBD and parts of UNCLOS (which deal with conservation of themarine living resources and protection of the marine environment). Many countries have ratifiedboth the CBD and UNCLOS, despite some overlapping provisions. Indeed, the underlying aimof the ASEAN Agreement and other related conventions is conservation, and all these

    instruments reinforce one another.

    An example of a formula for resolving conflicts that do arise among various instruments isprovided by Article 22 of the CBD:

    a) The provisions of this Convention shall not affect the rights and obligations of any Contracting Party deriving from any existing international agreement, exceptwhere the exercise of those rights and obligations would cause a serious damageor threat to biological diversity.

    b) Contracting parties shall implement this Convention with respect to the marineenvironment consistently with the rights and obligations of states under the law of the sea.

    Of the global conventions relating to biodiversity, the CBD is most closely related to the ASEANAgreement in that both deal with a comprehensive conservation strategy in comparison to othermore subject-specific strategies, like CITES. Both instruments adopt an integrated approach toconservation. To further its main objectives of sustainable utilization of biodiversity, the CBD infact regards the conservation of biological diversity as one of its objectives in the context of conservation and development. This idea is carried over from the ASEAN Agreement (Article2), which provides that conservation and management of natural resources are treated as anintegral part of development planning (see CBD, Article 10).

    Both the ASEAN Agreement and the CBD provide for similar measures, such as in-situ conservation and protected areas. The main thrust here is to safeguard the ecological andbiological processes essential in the functioning of ecosystems. The EIA process is alsorecommended in the two instruments.

    A mechanism for synergizing the implementation of the various instruments is found in Article23 of the CBD where, inter alia , the Conference of Parties shall keep under review the

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    implementation of the CBD. It is suggested that a coordinating body in each country should beset up to coordinate the implementation of the biodiversity-related instruments. This could thenbe channeled to a regional body, such as the recently established ASEAN Regional Centre forBiodiversity Conservation, based in the Philippines.

    As the main theme that runs through all the instruments is sustainable development whether itbe in terms of utilization or conservation of ecosystems or species there is a need forcooperation, coordination and synergy at international, regional (including sub-regional) andnational levels for successful implementation. All the biodiversity instruments must beconsidered as a whole, with the CBD as an overarching convention that sets the policy and

    philosophical foundations of conservation and equitable distribution of benefits. The otherinstruments can be considered sub-sets.

    ASEAN has considered the whole of its region as one ecosystem under the Bangkok Declarationof 1981 as well as other statements. Thus, the ASEAN Agreement could, in addition to CBDand other biodiversity instruments, provide a complementary overarching framework to dealwith ASEANs bioregion at the sub-regional level, as well as at the national level (see infra , forthe role of the agreement). This is because there are, for example, provisions in the agreement

    Figure 2. ASEAN Environment Year - Together Towards Sustainable Development, March 2003,Siem Reap, Cambodia. (Photo courtesy ASEAN Secretariat.)

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    that call for cooperation among contracting parties. For example, Article 19 calls for contractingparties to cooperate in the conservation and management of border or contiguous protectedareas; shared habitats of species listed in Appendix 1 of the Agreement; shared habitats of anyother species of common concern. Also, the list of ASEAN endangered and threatenedspecies in Appendix 1 does not necessarily correspond with the CITES list. The regulation of

    these species calls for different measures to be taken under Article 5 of the Agreement and doesnot necessarily overlap with the measures taken under other MEAs such as CITES. Hence, theCDB and other global biodiversity conventions do not replace the ASEAN Agreement. Theyshould all work together in harmony and reinforce one another.

    How then can cooperation, coordination and harmony be achieved? Assuming that all ASEANmembers ratify/accede to the ASEAN Agreement, CBD, CITES, Ramsar and others, thefollowing strategies may be suggested:

    (i) Inter-Linkage Within ASEAN and Globally

    As ASEAN was regarded as one common ecosystem in the Bangkok Declaration in 1981 andthis treatment was reiterated at the informal AMME (ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on theEnvironment) in Kuching in 1994, the common ecosystem concept can be extended to includethe regions of new members (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam), with regard given totheir geographical locations. Moreover, where two or more ASEAN states have a commonproblem, this is regarded as an ASEAN problem and the concept of a common ecosystem wouldapply for the purpose of ASEAN cooperation. All activities relating to the ASEAN Agreement,the CBD, CITES, the ASEAN Strategic Plan of Action on the Environment 1994 1998 (whichcalls for Strategy 5: Establish a regional framework on biological diversity conservation andsustainable utilization of its components; and Strategy 6: Promote the protection andmanagement of coastal zones and marine resources), and other related instruments should beimplemented in close coordination with one another. Together with the ASEAN Secretariat, thenewly established ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (ARCBC) shouldform links with the UN bodies and the Secretariats and COPs of the other global conventions.The activities on biodiversity should follow those recommended in Chapter 15 of Agenda 21which include:

    Developing new or strengthening existing strategies and plans of action forconservation of biological diversity and its sustainable use;

    Conducting case studies on bio-prospecting and taxonomy; Considering the practices of indigenous and local communities; and Promoting and strengthening national inventories related to biological resources and

    linking these to databases of other similar institutions.

    (ii) Joint Activities and Programmes

    One of the strategies to build synergies and harmonize the various biodiversity instruments andprogrammes is for all parties to the various conventions to meet together to identify areas forsynergy. Experiences and data under each instrument can be shared and input can be provided

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    for synergy and harmonization. One such example of an attempt at identifying synergiesbetween CBD and CITES was made at 7 th Session of the Global Biodiversity Forum held inHarare, Zimbabwe from 9-20 June 1997. This meeting provided parties of the two Conventions,together with NGOs, the opportunity to explore possible synergies between them. Over 200participants from over 20 countries attended GBF7, representing research, education, resource

    management, industry, government, NGOs and local and traditional communities.

    Synergy and harmonization among the various instruments are necessary for effectiveimplementation. Exchange of experience and information among the parties will be invaluablein the identification of potential conflicts and synergies. With over 20 years experience, CITESin particular has much to offer to the ASEAN Agreement, CBD and other biodiversity-relatedconventions on wildlife conservation and its practical problems. Most instruments provide forcooperation with the executive authorities of other conventions dealing with biodiversity. Forexample, under Article 18 of the ASEAN Agreement, contracting parties are to cooperatetogether with competent international organizations in regard to the status of species listed inAppendix 1 of the Agreement. Article 19 also calls upon contracting parties to cooperate with

    other contracting parties in regard to shared habitats of species listed in Appendix 1. Article 23(4) (h) requires the COPS, in keeping under review the implementation of the Convention, tocooperate with executive bodies of allied conventions. CITES also encourages participants frominternational agencies or bodies as well as national governmental and non-governmental bodies(Article XI (7)) to participate at its meetings.

    Has the ASEAN Agreement a Role to Play in Light of Other BiodiversityRelated Global Conventions?

    This question has been specifically posed by ASOEN. The answer is a positive Yes; as a sub-

    regional mechanism, it plays a complementary role to global as well as national biodiversity related instruments, in that it provides a sub-regional framework to deal with biodiversityconservation at that level.

    As noted above, ASEAN has been recognized as having one common ecosystem. The preambleof the ASEAN Agreement underlines the desire of the signatories to undertake individual and

    joint action for the conservation and management of their living resources. Article 2(3) of theagreement envisages that the contracting parties may have to take appropriate action to managethe resources of two or several contracting parties. A sub-regional rather than a national orglobal approach may be more desirable in some areas and the agreement provides the framework for ASEAN cooperation.

    A few examples are given below:

    Joint ASEAN effort is needed to combat the Indonesian haze caused by the slash andburn method of land clearing in Kalimantan and Sumatra since the 1980s. At present thehaze affects not only Singapore and Malaysia but also Thailand and Philippines, not tomention Indonesia itself. Vietnam can also learn from the lessons of the Indonesian haze

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    as it practices a slash and burn policy and it would also benefit from ASEAN cooperationon atmospheric trans-boundary pollution.

    ASEAN cooperation is also needed to deal with pollution problems in the Straits of Malacca, which have from time to time affected two littoral states in the ASEAN region,

    namely Singapore and Malaysia. Pollution will affect marine biodiversity. There is also a need for cooperation in dealing with trade, for example trade in non-

    CITES flora and fauna species which are protected in their ASEAN country of origin.Article 5 (1)(a) of the ASEAN Agreement calls upon contracting parties to regulate tradein endangered species listed in Appendix 1 of the Agreement. A list has been preparedand includes non-CITES species that are endangered by trade or habitat loss (a widerscope than CITES). To the extent that the species overlap with the CITES species,cooperation among the ASEAN states under the ASEAN Agreement can ensure effectiveenforcement operations. Similarly, non-CITES protected species that are nationallyprotected can also benefit from such cooperation under the agreement. Indeed, a synergy

    of the ASEAN Agreement, CITES and CBD can be forged by having a separateinstrument that would strengthen the implementation of the three instruments and furthertheir objectives. An example of such a synergy, at least between CITES and CBD, is theLusaka Agreement to reduce and ultimately eliminate illegal trade in wild fauna and floraand to establish a task force for this purpose. The main obligations are to investigate andprosecute cases of illegal trade. The Lusaka Agreement thus reinforces CITES and CBDand enables the two to supplement one other. Indeed, a synergy of the three instrumentsis timely, as a call to conserve biodiversity (albeit in the context of CBD) was made bythe Philippines Environmental Secretary, Victor Ramos, in his keynote speech at the 8 th ASOEN Meeting, held on 8 Sept 1997 in Plantation Bay, Philippines.

    Joint ASEAN cooperation is needed to conserve and manage protected areas and naturereserves, including trans-frontier parks. A regional framework for the protection of theseareas and endangered species would ensure that conservation policies and approaches are,as far as possible, harmonized. This will also strengthen national efforts in natureconservation.

    The concept of sustainable development, a golden thread that runs through all the instrumentsunder study (even though the pre-1992 global conventions did not use the term), requires anintegrated approach. Here again, the overlapping provisions are not in conflict but ratherinterface with one another. Indeed, the integrated approach adopted in, say, the ASEANAgreement and CBD, takes into consideration not only conservation but everything that impactson conservation, such as pollution of air, water, marine systems, trans-boundary areas or nationalareas. Morevover, processes like EIAs, international cooperation and capacity-building areprovided for in the more modern conventions like CBD. The ASEAN Agreement can promote acoordinated and effective regional/national management of conservation and sustainable usepractices.

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    Why Has the ASEAN Agreement Not Been Ratified by Some Member States?

    There are no official reasons as to why three of the signatory states have not ratified theagreement, although they were asked to present reports as to their reasons for non-ratification.The reasons given below are therefore the writers own.

    The ASEAN way of cooperation among its members is non-intrusive of one anotherssovereignty and relies on consensus-building there is no ASEAN Parliament (for anorganization chart on ASEAN environmental governance in biodiversity, see Appendices 2 & 3).

    There are a variety of reasons why a state may not ratify a treaty even after it has signed it. Sofar as Singapore is concerned, it is a known policy that it will only ratify an internationalagreement if it is ready to implement it. There are certain preconditions under the ASEANAgreement that have made advance preparation for implementation difficult for example, theremust be in place an inventory or Red Data book of flora and fauna. Such inventories were notavailable in the six signatory states at the time the agreement was signed. Today, Singapore has

    an inventory but it is not complete. The same can be said of the other ASEAN countries.However, as the ARCBC is now developing a database of inventories, this should no longer be areason for non-ratification. The inventory process is ongoing and should continue when theagreement enters into force.

    Other countries may be prepared to ratify a treaty even though they may not be able toimmediately implement it, as they anticipate obtaining funding for implementation.

    Lack of capacity, technical knowledge and expertise for implementation may be another reasonfor non-ratification, as scientific research is needed to carry out various studies under theagreement. Again, this should not militate against ratification.

    In any case, the agreement is only a framework agreement and implementation can be tailored toeach signatorys situation. The agreement should be considered as an overarching instrument forthe region. Except for some general obligations, implementing legislation and/or action plansare needed at the sub-regional and national levels.

    Over the last ten years, particularly after the Rio Summit, ASEAN has been active in formulatingguidelines for both terrestrial and marine protected areas under the ASEAN Heritage Parks andReserves Declaration. This Declaration is back-to-back with the agreement, as are Strategies 5(establishing a regional framework on biological diversity conservation) and 6 (promoting theprotection and management of coastal and marine resources) of the ASEAN Strategic Plan of

    Action for the Environment 1994 - 1998. The Hanoi Plan of Action 1999-2004 further seeks topromote and strengthen ASEANs initiatives on biodiversity and their implementation (see mypaper, Change and Protected Areas: The Legal and Policy Response in ASEAN 2 ( It may well be that 18years ago, the agreement was too progressive for the signatory states to understand fully.However, today, with the preconditions of the agreement in the process of being developed andwith other biodiversity initiatives underway, ratification of the agreement is just a step forward.Moreover, the ARCBC provides the institutional backing for its ratification. The four main

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    objectives of the centre are: to foster cooperation on biodiversity among ASEAN and Europeanuniversities, research and training institutions; to establish an ASEAN-EU biodiversity database;to identify and address information gaps which impede effective management and protection of Southeast Asian biodiversity; and to analyze, document and disseminate information onbiodiversity conservation.

    It is thus of interest to note that the ASEAN Agreement has been revived and is now on theagenda of the AWGNCB. The Kuala Lumpur meeting of the Technical Panel on the agreementsuggested that ASOEN could request the three non-ratified signatory countries to provide anupdate on their ratification processes at the 15 th meeting of ASOEN two years from now. Italso suggested that ASOEN could seek the views of the non-signatory member countries on theagreement.

    At the 30 th ASEAN Anniversary Commemorative Summit held from 14-16 December 1997 inKuala Lumpur, the heads of state/government of ASEAN nations chartered the ASEAN Vision2020. One of the visions that ASEAN nations pledged to bring into reality by the year 2020 was

    that ASEANs natural resources would contribute to its development and shared prosperity.Surely, the ASEAN Agreement would contribute toward the realization of this vision.

    Figure 3. Celebrating ASEAN Environment Year, March 2003, Siem Reap, Cambodia. (Photo courtesy ASEAN Secretariat.)

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    Postscript: The ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, 2002, entered into forceon 25 November, 2003.


    1 Pagnan, Jeanne. Governments, Governance, and Protected Areas. Please see Session 3.2 in this volume.2 This paper was prepared for the WPC Opening Plenary Symposium B: Managing with Change, held on 9September, 2003, Durban.

    The writer would like to acknowledge with thanks the ASEAN Secretariat for permission toreproduce the photographs in this article.

    Kheng Lian Koh ( is a Professor of the Faculty of Law at theNational University of Singapore and Director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for EnvironmentalLaw. She also serves the IUCN Centre for Environmental Law as Regional Vice Chair for EastAsia and as a Steering Committee member.