Building Asia-Africa Cooperation: Analysing the Relevance of the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP)

In 2005 during the 50th Asia-Africa anniversary summit in Indonesia, the Heads of State and Government committed to the establishment of the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP) with the hope of reinvigorating the ‘Spirit of Bandung’ and to continue the legacy and vision of Asian and African leaders of the 1955 Bandung Conference. Despite the long-standing rhetoric of solidarity between Asia and Africa, in reality there are no formal institutional links at the continental level. The following analysis examines the progress of NAASP, and whether it is still relevant to become an inter regional vehicle for Asia-Africa relations as outlined in 2005. This analysis further looks at the possibility of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) becoming a leading actor to formally institutionalize NAASP. The first section provides a background from the 1955 Bandung Conference to the establishment of NAASP. The Bandung Conference heralded the beginning of Asia-Africa formal cooperation, which led to the rise of the Third World countries in world politics, and most importantly the establishment of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM). The second section provides an analysis on whether it is still relevant to formalise NAASP as a framework to build a bridge between Asia and Africa. This section also discusses why it is necessary for ASEAN to take a leading role in formalising NAASP as a multilateral framework.