As senior ministers in Southeast Asia met for a high-level summit in Cambodia in July, some observers were looking ahead to 2014. That’s when Burma, known as Myanmar, will be taking its place as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
It will be an important year for Burma itself--but also for ASEAN, which has its credibility at stake should Burma's unprecedented reforms stumble. ASEAN is eager for the international community to completely remove sanctions on Burma. But some nations' reluctance to axe sanctions altogether is a point of frustration for the regional bloc.
“ASEAN wants the sanctions against Burma removed, because it discriminates against one of its members," one observer says.
But economic sanctions may be harder to remove than they were to impose in the first place.