The ASEAN Charter entered into force on 15 December 2008. The Charter marks a significant milestone in ASEAN’s evolution, creating a legal foundation for the organisation. ASEAN’s professed aim is to become a rules-based organisation rather than just a conglomeration of nation states sharing only geographical proximity. The key to this ambition is the creation of mechanisms for the settlement of disputes and disagreements amongst the member states.
There have been three major disputes between ASEAN member states that have proceeded to adjudication by the International Court of Justice: the Ligitan/Sipadan case between Indonesia and Malaysia, the Pedra Branca case between Malaysia and Singapore and the Preah Vihear case between Cambodia and Thailand. The Preah Vihear dispute flared up after the entry into force of the Charter. The way this was handled sheds an interesting light on the way that ASEAN deals with disputes.