Timor-Leste to become ASEAN’s 11th member

Timor-Leste will become ASEAN’s 11th member-state, starting next year, ending the latter’s long-term Observer status in the 10-menber regional bloc.

The ASEAN leaders announced their decision on Timor-Leste’s membership bid during the  41st ASEAN Leaders’Summit and Related Summits on Friday. “We, the Leaders of the ASEAN, have agreed in principle to admit Timor-Leste to be the 11th member of ASEAN,” their joint statement read.

ASEAN’s 10-member states include Brunei Darrusalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao-PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Starting next year, Timor Leste will formally be integrated into it as their 11th member.

Timor-Leste has long enjoyed an “observer status” in ASEAN, which allowed its participation in all Asean meetings, including the summit plenaries. The ASEAN Leaders have tasked their Coordinating Council to formulate an “objective, criteria-based roadmap” for Timor-Leste’s full membership and submit it for adoption during the 42nd edition of the Summit in 2023.

“All ASEAN Member States and external partners shall fully support Timor-Leste to achieve its milestone goals through the provision of capacity building assistance and other necessary and relevant support for its full membership in ASEAN,” the joint statement added.

The approval came more than a decade since Timor-Leste applied to be part of the regional organization, taking into consideration the outcomes of the fact-finding missions conducted by the ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

Timor-Leste gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 and officially applied for ASEAN membership in 2011.Cambodia, this year’s ASEAN chair and Summit host, was the last nation admitted as the regional bloc’s member-state in 1999.