The RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies convened the annual meeting of the NTS-Asia Consortium for the 5th time on 13 to 15 April 2021. The three-day conference of a two-hour panel session each day was held on Zoom platform. The conference brought together 12 speakers from member institutions and its non-member partner and was attended by about 40 participants each day. The theme for this year’s meeting was “Asian Security in a Post-COVID-19 Environment.” The conference provided a platform for Consortium members to exchange their perspectives and analyses on the continuing relevance of NTS issues amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
During the sessions, panellists shared their observations and findings on three key areas, namely crisis impact on inequality and vulnerable groups; cybersecurity and transnational crimes; and crisis response and sustainable future. The panellists of the first session reflected on the experiences of vulnerable groups including women in India and Indonesia who were affected disproportionately by the pandemic. The public health crisis has also demonstrated the scale of challenges that potential massive crises such as climate eventualities can pose on the different systems in the society. The panel highlighted the issues of environmental degradation and carbon emissions that are driven by human consumption, therefore the need to find an alternative model to economic development to avert climate crisis.
The panellists of the second session impressed on audience the increasing importance of governing the cyber space. The expanding use of digital equipment in human day-to-day life would challenge the definition and scope of security and potentially widen inter-generational gap. The increasing use of data may transform the society into a Digital Intensive Society and bring with it a set of new issues such as “who is safe” in view of data accessibility, use, and vulnerability. Additionally, the panel showcased the experiences of social media use to propagate cyber hate, as well as human and drug trafficking, in Sri Lanka.
Finally, the third panel discussed the various challenges that India and Malaysia are facing in their efforts to address the pandemic. Political distrust and vaccine imperialism are among issues that hamper effective responses. The panel also stressed the need to push for sustainability agenda that include food waste reduction and inclusive green growth for sustainable development and environmental protection.
In her closing remarks, Professor Mely Caballero-Anthony, Head of the NTS Centre at RSIS and Secretary-General of the NTS-Asia Consortium, highlighted the continuing necessity to exchange experiences to see how the pandemic has affected people in different regions and observe if there are any commonalities in responses and the kind of problems and insecurities being faced. The public health crisis is unusual and even extraordinary in the way its repercussions cutting across multiple security areas. Professor Caballero-Anthony emphasised that the multifaceted challenges brought about the pandemic affirm the relevance of the concept of security beyond national borders and highlight the critical importance of governance and multilateralism. She thanked the members of the Consortium for their active participation and valuable contributions that made this year’s conference successful.
You may view the event summary notes here.