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Ripe for A New Asian Multilateralism? Asean and Contemporary Regional Dynamics

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At different rates and following different patterns, Asian multilateralism, particularly in Southeast Asia, is under construction. For observers, the dynamics of regional cooperation have been transformed (or have accelerated) over recent years. This new dynamism is the result of three shocks: the end of the Cold War and the acceleration of economic liberalisation; the Asian financial crisis of 1997–1998; and the events of 11 September 2001. These events modified regional processes and enabled the emergence of new forms of regional cooperation. These are characterised by the proliferation of free trade agreements, greater financial cooperation, a renewal of dialogue initiatives on security issues, and the multiplication of formal and informal regional institutions. In this article, we argue that we are now witnessing a new form of 'soft multilateralism' emerging in Asia, in which ASEAN is both well placed and very experienced. In such multilateralism, norms and principles are seldom made explicit, and are even less made constraining, but act as guiding sets of behaviours.

Affiliations: 1: Université de Montréal, Canada;, Email:; 2: Université de Montréal, Canada;, Email:


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