ASEAN: still the zone of peace, freedom and neutrality?


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) pursuit for a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) first began during the Cold War, at a time of intense superpower rivalry in Southeast Asia. ASEAN reaffirmed the importance of this principle in 2020, amid growing concerns of instability in the Asia-Pacific region as a result of increasing tensions between the United States (US) and China. Through an examination of the ZOPFAN principle, this paper seeks to develop a greater understanding of ASEAN’s ability to respond to periods of geopolitical crisis and Great Power rivalry. It asks whether a ZOPFAN in Southeast Asia has ever been successfully realised, and what is the likelihood of one being achieved in the future. As analysis of recent security challenges will show, ZOPFAN falls short as both a framework for regional security and as an expression of regional autonomy. This raises serious questions about ASEAN’s coherence in the post-Cold War era, and its ability to uphold regional order in light of renewed Great Power security competition.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Politics, History and International Relations
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: ASEAN,Autonomy,China,Neutrality,United States,Zopfan,Sociology and Political Science
Publication ISSN: 2041-0611
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 07:23
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2021 09:08
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
https://www.tan ... 87.2021.1967762 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2021-09-27
Published Online Date: 2021-09-27
Accepted Date: 2021-08-10
Authors: Southgate, Laura (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-6011-7492)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

| Preview

Export / Share Citation


Additional statistics for this record