Publications

Bringing Back Multilateral Cooperation In Non-Traditional Security Governance

Organisation: NTS, RSIS

Research Themes:
Environmental security and climate change
Type: Policy Reports
24 May 2019

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Overview

Non-traditional security (NTS) issues continue to threaten the well-being of nations and communities in Asia and around the world. Multilateral cooperation, efficient and timely deployment of resources, and a long-term vision of sustainable development are needed to address ever-complex and transboundary implications of these threats, ranging from climate change and disasters to mass movement of people in search of refuge and safety. Given that traditional, state-led multilateralism is in retreat, a more sustainable approach to multilateral cooperation is critically needed, requiring the collaborative participation and engagement of multiple state and non-state actors, from local communities, civil society organisations, the private sector, regional organisations, and other international agencies.

The Annual Conference of the Consortium of Non-Traditional Security in Asia (NTS-Asia), held in Singapore on 25-26 March 2019, examined the need to advance multisectoral multilateralism to comprehensively address a number of NTS challenges including, among others, irregular and forced migration, climate change, digital threats, economic inequality and social fragmentation. This report is a summary of recommendations put forward at the NTS-Asia Conference towards promoting deeper multilateral cooperation in NTS governance and highlights its relevance to Asia, including the ASEAN region.

NTS-Asia Newsletter February 2019

Organisation: NTS, RSIS

Research Themes:
Type: NTS-Asia Newsletter
21 February 2019

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Integrating A Disaster Response Architecture In Timor-Leste: Opportunities And Challenges

Organisation: NTS, RSIS

Authors: Vishalini Suresh, Alistair D. B. Cook, Tamara Nair, Foo Yen Ne
Research Themes:
Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
Type: Policy Reports
22 March 2018

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Abstract

Over the past fifteen years, Timor Leste has made noteworthy gains in national development in general but continues to experience significant exposure during natural disasters like prolonged droughts and flooding in particular. Yet there is little documented evidence of these disasters and their impact on human security in Timor Leste. The challenges facing the country are considerable, and low institutional capacity makes it difficult for the government to increase resilience to slow onset disasters. This report explores how current structures, mechanisms and institutions in the country have been organised for emergencies and how disaster response operations have been conducted thus far. Data was collected by conducting in-depth interviews with relevant personnel from government agencies, international aid agencies and local non-state actors. This was supplemented by document analyses of major reports and literature surrounding disaster preparedness in the country.  The findings reveal that there are three key strategies that need further development: enhancing institutional capacity, strengthening coordination mechanisms and evaluating current emergency response plans. Further research should include conducting a comprehensive needs assessment, mapping the localised response structures, and the contextualising of human insecurities in the country.

Examining Cooperation for Climate Change Adaptation in Southeast Asia: The Case of Lower Mekong River Basin

Organisation: NTS, RSIS

Authors: Margareth Sembiring
Research Themes:
Environmental security and climate change
Type: Policy Briefs
23 April 2018

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Abstract

A number of international initiatives on climate change identify cooperation as one of the means to addressing the changing climate. Cooperation also applies in the context of climate change adaptation. As one of the global hotspots for disaster risk, it is imperative for Southeast Asia to build its climate resilience through climate change adaptation. While there are a wide range of interventions that can contribute to climate change adaptation efforts, technology plays a particularly important role across different sectors. This paper is the first part of a series of work that examine the different mechanisms of cooperation for climate change adaptation in Southeast Asia. It takes Lower Mekong River Basin cooperation as a case study and it aims to assess the extent to which regional cooperation helps member countries to implement and expand technological solutions in climate change adaptation.

Migration, Jobs and Wages: Reassessing Benefits and Challenges of Labour Migration

Organisation: NTS, RSIS

Authors: Jose Ma. Luis P. Montesclaros, Mely Caballero-Anthony
Research Themes:
Irregular migration and the movements of people
Type: Policy Reports
25 April 2018

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Abstract

As Southeast Asian economies become deeply integrated, there are concerns as to whether movement of people through labour migration should be part of this integration. While labour migration offers benefits especially in addressing labour shortage in countries with shrinking working age population, for countries at different levels of economic development, opening up the labour markets presents disadvantages to locals facing more job competition and falling wages.  This paper re-examines this debate by analysing a number of factors that have allowed states to maintain their competitiveness and improve wages.  By comparing the experiences of a number of countries that have seen rising wages with those countries that saw falling wages with labour migration, and using a statistical (two-sample difference of means) test, this preliminary study shows that labour migration by itself is neither boon nor bane. A more nuanced view is needed, as labour migration’s impacts on wages hinge on the nature of institutional support provided by governments in helping firms to be internationally competitive.

Resilience in the Face of Disruptions

Organisation: NTS, RSIS

Research Themes:
Other NTS Issues
Type: Policy Reports
10 May 2018

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Abstract

Human activities, technology and climate change drive changes to our environmental landscape and societal order. Marine microplastics arising from woeful human use of plastics threaten marine ecology. Excessive consumption of fossil fuels disrupts weather systems and consequently undermines food security. Unequal access between the “haves and have nots” aggravates food insecurity. Without meaningful intervention, annual deaths from food-borne diseases (FBDs) caused by anti-microbial resistant (AMR) bacteria will reach 10 million in 2050. Human displacement continues unabated across state lines as humanitarian crises require fresh responses. Ubiquitous use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) has created a new landscape where cyber-threats target both hardware and software and where truth has become its latest victim. Moreover, social media has been weaponized to breed intolerance.

The Annual Conference of the Consortium of Non-Traditional Security (NTS) in Asia held in Singapore recently examined responses to these uncertainties, if not threats to humanity, arising from key disruptions. This report captures the responses and hopes touted by experts at the Conference with the view of providing policy makers and invested scholars interested in such developments with some recommendations towards building resilience within and across states.

Is Use of Cyber-Based Technology in Humanitarian Operations Leading to the Reduction of Humanitarian Independence?

Organisation: NTS, RSIS

Authors: MARTIN STANLEY SEARLE
Research Themes:
Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
Type: Working Papers
11 June 2018

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Abstract

Technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) are being tested and adopted at a significant rate in humanitarian emergency response. However, the crossing of physical, biological, and cyber domains that characterises these technologies threatens the independence of humanitarian organisations. This is occurring in an environment in which the value and purpose of independence is already seriously questioned, both in practice, and in principle. This paper argues that the loss of independence stems from two related trends. First, several 4IR technologies are improving the capacity of humanitarian organisations to gather, synthesise, and analyse data, resulting in the production of information of increasingly strategic, political or military value. Second, the cyber component of these technologies simultaneously renders that information more vulnerable to unauthorised access by third parties with relevant political, military or economic agendas. This parallels the “capability/ vulnerability paradox” identified in literature discussing cybersecurity in relation to the military or so-called “smart cities”. In conflict and disaster settings, this paradox increases the likelihood of humanitarian actors functioning as appendages of other organisations. This loss of independence potentially has operational implications relating to access, and material impact on the ongoing debate around the importance of independence in humanitarian work.

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies and Disaster Management in Bangladesh: the 2017 Rohingya Exodus

Organisation: NTS, RSIS

Authors: Alistair D. B. Cook, Foo Yen Ne
Research Themes:
Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
Type: Policy Reports
2 July 2018

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Abstract

The exposure to natural hazards has prompted Bangladesh to institutionalize disaster management and coordination. This report examines Bangladesh’s established disaster management structures and the role of key actors through reviewing existing literature from international organisations, academia, and think tanks, followed by interviews with key disaster management stakeholders in Bangladesh from the end of February to the beginning of March 2018. In analysing the response to the 2017 Rohingya Exodus, this report aims to identify lessons learnt and factors which may impede effective disaster management and coordination between different actors with some operating outside their traditional mandated area of natural hazards to govern a complex humanitarian emergency.

Roundtable on Humanitarian Technology and Innovation: Critical Questions and Implications for Southeast Asia

Organisation: NTS, RSIS

Authors: Foo Yen Ne, Martin Searle
Research Themes:
Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
Type: Event Reports
12 July 2018

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The Case for a Dedicated Regional Mechanism for Climate Change:A Comparative Assessment

Organisation: NTS, RSIS

Authors: Margareth Sembiring
Research Themes:
Environmental security and climate change
Type: Policy Briefs
17 July 2018

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Abstract

Climate change is a common concern that requires collective efforts to address. Regional cooperation on climate change can take place either within a dedicated mechanism or as a part of a larger environmental agenda. Building on an earlier study that examines climate change cooperation at the Lower Mekong River Basin, this Insight looks into regional mechanisms for climate change across different regions. An assessment of regional cooperation efforts in Europe, North America, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and South America affirms the earlier observation made on the Lower Mekong River Basin cooperation that shows the need for a specialised regional arrangement for more effective climate actions.