Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 305

305 Arctic Yearbook 2015 and Malaysia; after an initial debate in 1979, both states agreed to take the case to the ICJ and vowed to honor the outcome (Ting 2008). When the ICJ ruled in favor of Singapore, the matter was closed. Arctic states have, on occasion, adopted a similar approach as seen with Denmark/Greenland and Canada’s dispute over Hans Island, but a deepened commitment to ICJ adjudication should be considered. The enthusiasm for these governance additions in the Arctic must be disciplined. It is easy to suggest that participation within the Arctic Council and broader region should be expanded, and also straightforward to suggest that adjudication take place through the ICJ, but great power resistance – from forces such as Russia and the US – make these developments challenging and unlikely. While a region-wide doctrine of non-interference could assuage fears of sovereignty violations, the very nature of ICJ adjudication makes it difficult to see great power involvement. However, that does not mean the prescription should not be put forth. Additionally, for every easy example of ASEAN cooperation cited, there certainly exists a complicated one, and it is impossible not to acknowledge ASEAN’s hobbled approach to recent tensions in the South China Sea. Far from being an issue leader, ASEAN has been in the passenger seat on the issue of South China Sea conflicts. Hiding behind the veil of non-interference, ASEAN – pulled in different directions by the constituent states – has failed to leverage its position and serve as a force for reconciliation in the region. Similar challenges have, and will always face, regional institutions, and the Arctic is not exempt. The “ASEAN Way” and Charter The words and norms that underpin ASEAN do not always go far enough. Recently, ASEAN has come under fire for sweeping conflicts under the rug instead of pushing for lasting resolutions. This has led the ASEAN Way, widely understood to be “informality, organization minimalism, inclusiveness, intensive consultations leading to consensus and peaceful resolution of disputes,” to be downgraded (Acharya 2009: 78). In its place, Southeast Asia observers and policy-makers have pushed for an ASEAN Charter to formally and legally codify the Association’s informal structures. The goal of a charter would be to transform “ASEAN from being a non-binding association to becoming an international organisation with a legal personality” (Acharya 2009: 267). In November 2007, such a vision was realized with the adoption of an ASEAN Charter ratified by all member states. Beyond offering a formal legal foundation for ASEAN, the Charter also expanded ASEAN’s institutional reach making it possible to develop new working groups, increase ministerial meeting frequency, and expand the Secretary General’s governing power. A defining difference Before closing with Arctic policy prescriptions, it is incumbent upon the author to acknowledge a principal difference between the Arctic and ASEAN: structure. As has been discussed, while ASEAN has enjoyed superpower engagement – often from the US or China – this is of a peripheral nature as the superpowers must work with a light footprint when seeking to influence regional policy. Blocking for the economic outliers (i.e. Singapore and Brunei), at ASEAN’s core are a collection of developing countries. On the other hand, the Arctic’s cast list is composed of heavyweights; the US, Russia, Canada, and a league of highly developed middle powers (i.e. Nordic states) set the regional policy Lidow