Southeast Asia

Nuclear Weapon Free Regions

Nuclear Weapons Map of Southeast Asia

click map to enlarge

Southeast Asia became a nuclear-weapon-free zone in 1997, after a relatively long incubation period. The idea of a SEANWFZ dates back to 1971, when the original five members (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed a declaration on a Zone of Peace, Freedom, and Neutrality (ZOPFAN). None of the current ASEAN member states have ever possessed nuclear weapons, and a majority of the states condemned nuclear weapons before any concrete proposals for a Southeast Asia nuclear-weapon-free zone were advanced.

The establishment of the zone served to further consolidate the commitment of the states in the region to remain nuclear-weapon-free and to work collectively towards the achievement of a world without nuclear weapons. Over the years, several of the countries in the region have engaged actively in nuclear disarmament initiatives and continue to play key roles in multilateral political endeavours on this issue. The commitment to remain nuclear-weapon-free has also manifested itself in an active role in the current realignment of the international discourse on nuclear disarmament, away from the traditional state-based security perspective towards a discourse predicated on a recognition of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that any use of these weapons would have.

Introduction to the issue of nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia

This article provides an overview of the issue of nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia, with particular emphasis on the establishment of the Southeast Asia nuclear-weapon-free zone (SEANWFZ). The paper also considers the role of Southeast Asian states in the humanitarian discourse on nuclear disarmament and in international efforts to prohibit and eliminate all nuclear weapons.

ILPI roundtable discussion in Tagaytay, June 2014

On 3–4 June 2014, ILPI’s Nuclear Weapons Project organized its 7th regional roundtable meeting near Manila, the Philippines, in collaboration with the Center for Peace Education (CPE) at Miriam College and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

ILPI roundtable discussion in Yogyakarta, July 2013
ILPI’s 3rd Regional Roundtable on Nuclear Weapons was held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 10-11 July 2013. The meeting was organized in collaboration with the Institute for International Studies at the University of Gadjah Mada (IIS-UGM) and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). 

The Treaty of Bangkok

The Southeast Asia Nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty or the Bangkok treaty was signed on 15 December 1995. The treaty came into force on 28 March 1997 and has been ratified by all ten signatory states.