On September 14th, ASEAN, a Southeast Asian regional cooperative consisting of ten member-nations, opened the ASEAN-Japan Cyber Security Capacity Building Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. The Centre is designed to train personnel from member countries in countering cyber threats.

The coursework, designed by experts in Japan, will focus on analysis, forensics, and cyber defense. The Centre has a 700-student capacity. It will be housed at the Electronic Transaction Development Agency of Thailand.

Several countries in the region have suffered cyber-attacks over the last few years. Singapore’s government health database was breached, compromising the personal information of more than 1.5 million people. Malaysia defeated an attempt on its central banking system.  Thailand itself has been drafting bills as a result of cyber incursions in its government systems.

The Centre was the brainchild of a meeting of ASEAN and Japanese ministers last year in Cambodia.  The seriousness of the threats, and the lack of local cybersecurity personnel, meant that ASEAN had to look outside its member nations for help.

Japan is a member of what is called ASEAN Plus Three.  The organization was founded on 8 August 1967.  It consists of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Cambodia.  ASEAN Plus Three adds China, Japan, and South Korea.

Although ASEAN deals with regional issues much more far-reaching than simply cybersecurity, this centre shows that regional cohesion continues to strengthen and that the organization is not above reaching out to others in the region if it means further growth.

The ASEAN Charter lists a set of guiding principles that each member nation is expected to uphold. They are:

  • Emphasis on the centrality of ASEAN in regional co-operation.
  • Respect for the principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty, non-interference and national identities of ASEAN members.
  • Promoting regional peace and identity, peaceful settlements of disputes through dialogue and consultation, and the renunciation of aggression.
  • Upholding international law with respect to human rights, social justice and multilateral trade.
  • Encouraging regional integration of trade.
  • Appointment of a secretary-general and permanent representatives of ASEAN.
  • Establishment of a human rights body and an unresolved dispute mechanism, to be formalized at ASEAN Summits.
  • Development of friendly external relations and a position with the U.N. (like the EU).
  • Increasing the number of ASEAN summits to twice a year and the ability to convene for emergency situations.
  • Reiterating the use of the ASEAN flag, anthem, emblem, and national ASEAN day on 8 August.