September 8, 1954, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization was Founded in Manila
On September 8, 1954, the eight-member Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), intended primarily to deter the further spread of communism in Southeast Asia, was founded in Manila. It was a response to US President Dwight D. Eisenhower directive to put together an alliance to contain any communist aggression in the free territories of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, or Southeast Asia in general.
Also known as the Manila Pact, its founding members and signatories, including France, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Pakistan, Thailand, and the United States, pledged themselves to “act to meet the common danger” in the event of aggression against any signatory state. A separate protocol to SEATO designated Laos, Cambodia, and “the free territory under the jurisdiction of the State of Vietnam [South Vietnam]” as also being areas subject to the provisions of the treaty.
In addition to joint military training, the organization did some work on mutual social and economic issues.
The treaty was supplemented by a Pacific Charter, affirming the rights of Asian and Pacific peoples to equality and self-determination and setting forth goals of economic, social, and cultural cooperation among the member countries.
The civil and military organizations established under the treaty had their headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand. SEATO relied on the military forces of member nations and joint maneuvers were held annually.
SEATO had no standing forces, but its members engaged in combined military exercises. Its language did not go as far as the absolute mutual defense commitments and force structure of the NATO alliance, instead providing only for consultations in case of aggression against a signatory or protocol state before any combined actions were initiated. This lack of an agreement that would have compelled a combined military response to aggression significantly weakened SEATO as a military alliance. It was, however, used as legal basis for U.S. involvement in South Vietnam.
Pakistan withdrew in 1968, and France suspended financial support in 1975. SEATO was dissolved on June 30, 1977.