Investigating the Contributions of Thailand’s Defence Diplomacy for ASEAN Community Integration
Defence diplomacy is receiving greater public attention as observers want to ensure that the defence sector is performing responsively in the changing world. ASEAN’s defence diplomacy is largely carried out under the ASEAN Political and Security Community (APSC) framework, which is one of the three main ASEAN Community pillars. This study aims to investigate the contributions made by Thailand’s defence diplomacy toward the integration efforts of the ASEAN Community, in increasing the understanding of the role played by defence diplomacy and see how such a role can be further enhanced. More importantly, this study also aims to propose policy recommendations on how Thailand’s defence diplomacy can be made more effective, with greater impact on the overall efforts toward ASEAN integration. For the purpose of this study, primary and secondary data have been collected, examined and analysed, using the documentary research technique, together with interviews of key personnel at both operational and policy levels. This study finds that, as an instrument of foreign diplomacy, Thailand’s defence diplomacy and its activities have significantly facilitated the process of ASEAN Community integration, but there remains much room for further improvement to optimize its usage. Despite the national consensus on its usefulness, Thailand’s defence diplomacy still face challenges such as the lack of national integrated policy and guidelines, knowledge and competency of the personnel involved, and an adequate budget to support continuous defence diplomacy initiatives. Due to the above, recommendations have been made by this study on how such shortcomings and others can be overcome.