ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting finished; Decision continued to uphold the Five-Point Consensus and urge to immediately halt the indiscriminate violence

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – July 13 Scenes

MoeMaKa, July 14, 2023

ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting finished; Decision continued to uphold the Five-Point Consensus and urge to immediately halt the indiscriminate violence

After the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting held in Jakarta, Indonesia, finished, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers decided to continue upholding their position that the Five-Point Consensus (5PC) remains their main reference to address the political crisis in Myanmar, which can be said to be customary, and urged to immediately halt indiscriminate violence, including airstrikes, in Myanmar, according to the statement described in news reports. It also included Thailand’s recent activities in Myanmar; i.e., the meeting of the Thai Foreign Minister and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, which a number of ASEAN Member States viewed as a positive development. As it has been more than two years since the 5 ASEAN Consensus Principles failed to be implemented, the military council government’s political positions were not allowed to attend the ASEAN meetings till now. When the 2nd year had passed, ASEAN announced that it would continue to uphold the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus.

The principle of immediate cessation of violence, which is the first principle in the Five-Point ASEAN Consensus, is generally accepted and not controversial in principle. However, there is no clear definition of how to act, whether terrorism means armed warfare, killings of civilians, or crimes committed against ordinary civilians that have nothing to do with armed attacks. I think that drafting the consensus in general policy-oriented terms without specific reference to the violence committed by which organization leads to a situation where there is no need for accountability.

The second principle, which is to commence constructive dialogue among all parties concerned in order to seek a peaceful solution, refers to the objective, and the general word “all relevant parties”. It does not describe exactly which methods are to be used, or who and which groups are to be involved. The third principle, which is to provide humanitarian assistance, is understood to be included to free the victims of the conflict from the situation of being made hostages rather than solve the conflict crisis. In this principle to provide humanitarian assistance, the fact that it does not clearly state not to make the local population of war victims, which is a consequence of the armed conflict and is drawn into the armed conflict, hostages, and not to block or cut off food and medicine, may be a weakness.

The last two points, which are the assignment of an ASEAN special envoy and the special envoy’s visit to Myanmar to facilitate mediation of the dialogue process, are more of a guide than a principle. The assignment of a special envoy and the decision to send him or her to Myanmar to intervene depend on the ASEAN Chair, i.e., the respective countries that hold the rotating chair of ASEAN, and the cooperation of the rest of the member countries. It also depends on the cooperation of the military council.

As the military council leader easily nodded to the Five-Point ASEAN Consensus, ASEAN must have hoped that some of the 5 points would be implemented within a few months. However, in April 2021, when the 5PC were agreed upon, Myanmar’s political crisis was still in its early stages, and it was only a period of gathering strength and preparing to reach a more serious and widespread level of armed conflict. A few months after that, it started to intensify, violence increased, and the area of armed conflict widened, making it further away from implementing the 5 principles. 


Till about 2 years and 3 months have passed, ASEAN is still holding the Five-Point Consensus. Some ASEAN members want ASEAN to take action to the point of expelling Myanmar from ASEAN. Some leaders of ASEAN countries think that ASEAN is working as much as it can and the rest depends on the participation and attitude of the stakeholders, Myanmar. You can see that by looking at the statements they made.


ASEAN also has a principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of one country, whether by another ASEAN country or as an ASEAN organization. On the other hand, the Myanmar issue not only affects the reputation of ASEAN, but also has direct effects on neighboring countries such as Thailand, which is also a member of ASEAN. Between these 2 aspects, it needs to be considered how deeply ASEAN should be involved. The NUG and some activists in Myanmar say that the Five-Point Consensus of ASEAN is no longer contemporary, and if there is no cooperation from the military council, they want ASEAN to take more drastic action than now. I also noticed that instead of engaging and discussing with the military council, ASEAN is urged to quit with the Five-Point Consensus, hold more discussions with the anti-military council forces such as NUG, CRPH, and EROs, and make more practical decisions.