"In February 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the Obama Administration would launch its formal interagency process to pursue accession to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), one of the ten-nation organization's core documents. It is expected that this process could be concluded within the year. If the Administration chooses to send a signal (such as signing the agreement) before then, it could do so at the next likely milestone, the ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministerial meeting in late July 2009. This report will analyze the legal and diplomatic issues involved with the possible accession to the TAC. […]. Some U.S. and Southeast Asian officials and analysts say that expanding U.S. engagement with ASEAN will help boost Southeast Asia's political stature, particularly as China seeks to continue expanding its influence in the region. The major concern with accession is whether the TAC's emphasis on non-interference in other countries' domestic affairs would constrain U.S. freedom of action, particularly its ability to maintain or expand sanctions on Burma. […]. Other objections have included arguments that acceding would accord greater legitimacy to the ruling Burmese junta; a view that ASEAN is insufficiently 'action-oriented'; and a belief that the TAC is an untested, arguably meaningless agreement. One issue that might arise for U.S. policymakers is whether accession to the TAC should take the form of a treaty, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, or whether the President already has sufficient authority to enter the TAC without further legislative action being necessary."
CRS Report for Congress, R40583