Southeast Asian Security Complex: The Case of The Spratly Islands Conflict

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen; Lunds universitet/Master of Science in Global Studies; Lunds universitet/Graduate School

Abstract: The issue of security is still an aspect of concern for domestic and international politics. In Southeast Asia, in 2003, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed to establish three pillars for the future single community by 2015: the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC). To live at peace with one another and with the world in democratic and harmonious environment, Southeast Asian Nations must take the APSC as a crucial mechanism to construct the field of political and security cooperation. The APSC should be promoted and analyzed in order to reach the establishment of peaceful regional security and the administration of regional security context. Meanwhile, there are many cases to tackle. Especially, focusing on this thesis is the interregional maritime territorial issue between China and ASEAN members – Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia – over disputed islands, namely the Spratly Islands conflict. Therefore, this thesis endeavors to investigate and study the security context of the Southeast Asian region through ASEAN action such as community integration by focusing especially on the Spratly Islands dispute case for a better understanding of Southeast Asian regional security. The Spratly Islands conflict has become a major concern for ASEAN due to its significances, the rise of China and the involvement of the United States. The islands are very important not only for ASEAN and China, but also for the United States as a superpower confined by the Regional Security Complex Theory (RSCT). Furthermore, this thesis will employ the RSCT to frame the research in order to implement research on the processes leading to the Southeast Asian securitization, conflict management, and establishing strong security cooperation (rather than on finding a resolution for the conflict) focusing on the regional, interregional, and global levels. As a result, ASEAN has promoted the Spratly Islands dispute as the desecuritization of the region via an international stage such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Ministerial Meetings (AMM) with the intention of creating amity between relevant countries in the region.

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