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ASEAN’s role as an economic organization representing South-East Asian nations has evolved into an increasingly vibrant one, recently including aims to promote native cultures, enhance cross-border diplomatic ties, as well as strategic agreements that go beyond the economic sphere of foreign relations. However, awry developments in human rights issues in various countries have seen governments and non-governmental organisations worldwide reach out to ASEAN in an attempt to prod ASEAN into firm action against human rights abuses. Yet, the ASEAN charter explicitly states and reinforces the principle of non-intervention, as well as having consensus-based agreements on actions to be undertaken by ASEAN. As such, these have effectively shielded countries with extremely poor human rights records such as Myanmar and Vietnam. This has drawn flak from the international community because of ASEAN’s refusal to intervene in human rights abuses in her member nations. An example of such was the suspension of talks with regards to the free trade agreements between the European Union and ASEAN. This issue highlighted a severe problem in the way ASEAN deals with human rights abuses amongst members of her community, and this has ultimately led critics worldwide to coin the term “Paper Tiger” as a derogatory description for ASEAN as an entity.

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