Is Minilateralism the Future of the Indo-Pacific?VIEW EVENT DETAILS
The complexity of challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, including U.S.-China tensions, territorial disputes, and the Myanmar crisis, has resulted in a paradox of multilateralism. While these developments have underscored the importance of cooperation, they have also tested inter-governmental frameworks such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The revival of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (“Quad”), creation of the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) arrangement, and renewed criticisms of ASEAN’s efficacy in political and security affairs raise the question of whether minilateralism — arrangements of smaller groupings of willing, able, or like-minded countries — may be the more practical approach for managing developments and preserving a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.
Asia Society Policy Institute's (ASPI) Director of Political-Security Affairs Elina Noor will moderate this public, virtual roundtable to discuss the future of minilateralism in the Indo-Pacific and its implications for a rules-based regional order with Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace's Executive Director Ambassador Pou Sothirak, U.S. Institute of Peace's Senior Expert on Southeast Asia Brian Harding, Kanagawa University's Professor at the Faculty of Law Mie Oba, and Chulalongkorn University's Professor and Director of the Institute of Security and International Studies Thitinan Pongsudhirak. The roundtable will assess the regional appetite for, and constraints of, minilateral arrangements aimed at managing or resolving otherwise intractable security challenges. Panelists will also identify particular areas of policy convergence suitable for targeted, practical minilateral cooperation. Among the Quad countries, these areas include public health, climate change, and critical technologies. In Southeast Asia, the Malacca Strait Patrol and Trilateral Maritime Patrol are existing examples of minilateralism in practice. Are there other opportunities for such minilateralism to be replicated elsewhere?
Brian Harding has been a senior expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) since 2020, where he is leading an expansion of the Institute’s work in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands region. Prior to joining USIP, Harding was deputy director of the Southeast Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and director for East and Southeast Asia policy at the Center for American Progress. From 2009 to 2013, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon as country director for Asian and Pacific security affairs. There, he managed defense relations with major U.S. partners in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Harding holds degrees from Middlebury College and The George Washington University and was a Fulbright research fellow in Indonesia.
Elina Noor is Director, Political-Security Affairs and Deputy Director, Washington, D.C. Office at the Asia Society Policy Institute. A native of Malaysia, Elina’s work focuses on security developments in Southeast Asia, global governance and technology, and preventing/countering violent extremism. Previously, Elina was Associate Professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. Prior to that, she was Director, Foreign Policy and Security Studies at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia. She was also formerly with the Brookings Institution’s Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World. Between 2017 and 2019, Elina was a member of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace. She currently serves on the ICRC’s Global Advisory Board on digital threats during conflict. Elina read law at Oxford University. She obtained an LL.M (Public International Law) from The London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, graduating with distinction at the top of her class. A recipient of the Perdana (Malaysian Prime Minister’s) Fellowship, she also holds an MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University where she was a Women in International Security Scholar.
Mie Oba is a Professor at the Faculty of Law, Kanagawa University. She obtained her MA and PhD at the University of Tokyo. She focuses on international relations, politics, and the development of regionalism in East Asia and the Asia Pacific, as well as Japan’s approach to regionalism and its relationship with Southeast Asia. She has a lot of articles and books both in Japanese and English, including “Sino-Japanese Competition over regional institutions in Asia” in “Further development of Asian regionalism: institutional hedging in an uncertain era” Journal of Contemporary East Asian Studies (2019), Jusoteki-Chiiki toshiteno Ajia: Tairitsu to Kyozon no Kozu (Asia as a Multi-layered Region: Co-existence in Conflicts), Yuhikaku (2014), Ajia Taiheiyo Chiiki Keisei heno Dotei: Kyokai-Kokka Nichi-Go no Aidentiti Mosaku to Chiiki-Shyugi (The Invention of the Asia Pacific Region: A History of Regionalism and Search for Identity by Japan and Australia as Liminal Nations), Minerva Shobo (2004). She received The 21st Ohira Masayoshi Memorial Prize (2005) and the 11th Nakasone Yasuhiro Incentive Award (2015).
Thitinan Pongsudhirak is Professor and Director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. He has held visiting positions at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and Stanford University, and currently serves on several editorial boards of academic journals, including Journal of Democracy. He has authored many publications and over 1,000 op-eds in mass media, such as The Bangkok Post, Nikkei Asia, The Straits Times, and Project Syndicate. His work focuses on comparative politics and geopolitics/geoeconomics of ASEAN and East Asia. In 2015, he was awarded a prize for excellence in opinion writing from Society of Publishers in Asia; in March 2018, he was appointed ASEAN@50 Fellow by New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade; and in May 2019, he was selected as Australia-ASEAN Fellow at Sydney’s Lowy Institute. He earned an award-winning PhD from The London School of Economics.
Pou Sothirak is currently Executive Director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace. He also serves as Advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia. He was appointed Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia from September 2013 to January 2014. He was Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore from January 2009 to December 2012. He was appointed Cambodian ambassador to Japan from April 2005 to November 2008. He served as an elected Member of Parliament twice during the Cambodian general elections of 1993 and 2003. He was appointed Minister of Industry Mines and Energy of the Royal Government of Cambodia from 1993 to 1998. He has written extensively on various issues confronting the development of Cambodia and the region.
For event details visit https://asiasociety.org/policy-institute/events/minilateralism-future-indo-pacific For event details visit https://asiasociety.org/policy-institute/events/minilateralism-future-indo-pacific