Beginners drowning in Asean’s alphabet soup

/ 03:23 AM July 22, 2011

NUSA DUA, Indonesia—One of the hottest items distributed at meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) used to be a handbook detailing the scores of mystifying acronyms used by the group.

At this year’s gathering of foreign ministers on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, there is no such handbook—so there is much head-scratching among the uninitiated over terms like SEANWFZ or ZoPFF/C.


The cognoscenti, of course, know those are references to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone and Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation.

A major topic at the meeting is the dispute over the South China Sea (SCS) and you must know your DOC (Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea) from your COC (Code of Conduct).


A joint communique at the end of the ministers’ meeting luckily spelled that out, as it did for ASCCO (Asean Security Community Plan of Action) and APTERR (Asean Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve) and dozens of other tongue-twisters.

It also made clear that SPA-FS had nothing to do with hot tubs or massages, but was the Strategic Plan of Action on Food Security.

But the acronym aficionado’s favorite would have to be:

“We acknowledge the achievements made by the Greater Mekong Sub region (GMS), the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) and the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), as well as other relevant subregional cooperation.

“We recommended to the ACCC to closely cooperate and coordinate with all of these sub-regional cooperation frameworks to implement the MPAC.”

No, don’t ask. Reuters

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TAGS: alphabet soup, Asean, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation., Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone and Zone of Peace
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