ASEAN has for some time been explicit that the development of a common regional identity among citizens of its 10 member states is essential to advancing the regional integration project. Its Charter declares that “ASEAN shall promote its common ASEAN identity and a sense of belonging among its peoples in order to achieve its shared destiny, goals, and values.” It has conducted cohesion and educational efforts under the theme “We Are ASEAN,” and it declared 2020 to be the “Year of ASEAN Identity,” with numerous related initiatives and events.

Increasingly, however, ASEAN and its affiliates have framed the identity-building project explicitly as one aimed at creating ASEAN regional citizens. For example, a 2019 report from a “Poll on ASEAN Awareness” commissioned by the ASEAN Secretariat used the phrase “ASEAN Citizens” more than two dozen times, including extensively in survey questions themselves. For example, Q23 asks, “How can ASEAN improve the way it communicates with ASEAN citizens?” In that vein, ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi notes that the organisation launched The ASEAN magazine in 2020 to “share and communicate ASEAN’s work to its citizens.” The organisation’s ASEAN Champions podcast, focusing on high achievers throughout the region, is billed as being “In Conversations with ASEAN Citizens,” and ASEAN’s official social media accounts offer information and at times directive advice to “ASEAN citizens.”

Please click here to read the full “ASEAN’s conception of regional citizenship” article published at Australian Outlook, written by Griffith Asia Institute’s Associate Professor Luis Cabrera and Professor Caitlin Byrne.