The Association
of Southeast Asian Nations

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established in 1967 as a regional forum to promote cohesive cooperation between its member states. It is now globally recognized as the mainstay for Asian-Pacific diplomacy and as a strong coalition for international cooperation outside the organization. ASEAN consistently works towards joint growth by promoting regional policies which strengthen cooperation on economic, socio-cultural, political and security matters.

Topic 1:  Combating the rise of synthetic drug trade in Southeast Asia

Despite the decline in opium and heroin trade, Southeast Asia’s drug economy has grown dramatically to an estimated annual worth of US$70 billion due to the rise in production and trafficking of synthetic drugs. A 19% increase in the quantity of methamphetamines seized in the region in 2020 amidst the pandemic border shutdowns indicates a shift in the traditional operations of drug syndicates and transnational organized crime. Recent developments of concern include the emergence of new trafficking routes through Laos and illegal laboratories for the production of precursor chemicals in the Golden Triangle sub-region. Member states will need to develop new approaches and improve regional cooperation for cross-border security, tighter financial governance and supporting local communities if they would like to continue pursuit of a drug-free ASEAN.

Topic 2:  Revitalizing the tourism industry post COVID-19 to promote economic growth

Southeast Asia’s tourism industry - which contributed US$380 billion and employed 42.3 million people in 2019 - has suffered a great blow due to the COVID-19 pandemic and border shutdowns. Even as borders reopen globally, the region is falling behind in its recovery plans due to low vaccination rollout and a complex patchwork of rules. Mutual cooperation is urgently required to implement common standards and protocols for resumption of intra-ASEAN and international travel. As delegates discuss policies to facilitate the reopening of ASEAN’s tourism sector and to attract tourists, they must carefully consider the safety of their citizens and the tourists, and restrictions due to COVID-19.