Southeast Asia Treaty Organization SEATO

Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO)

 

a military-political grouping created at the initiative of the USA. Its main task was to struggle against national liberation movements and all progressive forces in Southeast Asia. The foundation for the organization was laid in a treaty signed by the USA, Great Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand, and the Philippines on Sept. 8, 1954, in Manila (it went into force on Feb. 19, 1955).

In accordance with the Manila Pact (art. 4), each SEATO member pledged in the event of armed “aggression in the treaty area” against any of the signers to “act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.” The signers also pledged to consult in the event of a “threat of aggression.” The Manila Pact could be extended to other countries as well, since under Article 8 the treaty area was defined as “the general area of Southeast Asia,” including the entire territories of the Asian contracting parties and the “general area of the Southwest Pacific, not including the Pacific area north of 21 degrees 30 minutes North latitude.”

Despite the decisions of the 1954 Geneva Conference on principles for a political settlement in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and on respect for these countries’ sovereignty, the participants in the conference in Manila signed a supplementary protocol that extended the effect of the Manila Pact to South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Naval, air, and land maneuvers were carried out by SEATO.

SEATO endorsed the US aggression in Indochina, but soon after the aggression began (1964–65), there emerged signs of a crisis, related to exacerbated relations between its members and, later, the incipient process of international detente. In 1965, France stopped participating in the Council’s sessions, then refused to participate in SEATO’s military activity, and in 1973 announced it would discontinue its financial participation in the organization on June 30, 1974. In November 1973, Pakistan withdrew from SEATO.

The Vietnamese people’s victory over imperialism and imperialist agents in South Vietnam (April 1975) strengthened the democratic forces in Southeast Asia. Faced with the new situation, SEATO’s ministerial council decided in September 1975 to dissolve the organization. [18–1415–1; updated]

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