ASEANASEAN ( , ), officially the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is an economic union comprising 10 member states in Southeast Asia, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration between its members and other countries in Asia. ASEAN's primary objective was to accelerate economic growth and through that social progress and cultural development. A secondary objective was to promote regional peace and stability based on the rule of law and the principle of United Nations charter. With some of the fastest growing economies in the world, ASEAN has broadened its objective beyond the economic and social spheres. In 2003, ASEAN moved along the path of the European Union by agreeing to establish an ASEAN community comprising three pillars: the ASEAN security community, the ASEAN economic community, and the ASEAN socio-cultural community. The ten stalks of rice in the ASEAN flag and insignia represent the ten southeast Asian countries bound together in solidarity.
ASEAN also regularly engages other countries in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. A major partner of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, ASEAN maintains a global network of alliances and dialogue partners and is considered by many as a global powerhouse, the central union for cooperation in Asia-Pacific, and a prominent and influential organization. It is involved in numerous international affairs, and hosts diplomatic missions throughout the world.
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