ASEAN was founded with the 1967 Bangkok Declaration in order to encourage stable relations among its original member states, i.e. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, and to resist destabilizing influences from the war in Viet Nam. The means to stability was to promote economic, social and cultural cooperation in the spirit of equality and partnership. A formal treaty system was not required. As the Viet Nam war ended, ASEAN held its first Summit Meeting in Bali (1976), followed by the 1977 Summit in Kuala Lumpur, where cooperation on regional industrializations was launched. In this first phase of cooperation, national ASEAN secretariats carried on the projects. From 1977 to 1992, ASEAN worked with an administrative regional secretariat, based in Indonesia. ASEAN participated actively in the process to define sustainable development in Agenda 21, and since 1992 ASEAN has elaborated ever more sophisticated measures for coordination of policy, and expanded its membership to include among its members Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Viet Nam. Since the four new members have substantial needs in building their capacity for environmental protection specifically, and sustainable development more broadly, ASEAN has begun to include a capacity-building dimension to its cooperation.
Nicholas A. Robinson & Koh Kheng-Lian, Strengthening Sustainable Development in Regional Inter-Governmental Governance: Lessons from the "ASEAN Way', 6 Sing. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 640 (2002), http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/371/.