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'Disaster diplomacy' to gather pace in South-east Asia

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Subject

The implications of diplomatic competition in South-east Asian humanitarian and disaster response activities.

Significance

Two major defence cooperation exercises focusing largely on humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) will convene in February. Both exercises are South-east Asia-based but encompass the wider Asia-Pacific in their membership. Humanitarian responses to natural disasters are an increasing focus in ASEAN's security pillar, and a growing priority in South-east Asia's external partners' defence policies, particularly the United States, China, Japan, India, Australia and Russia.

Impacts

  • Increasing sums will be committed to help ASEAN develop HADR capacity.
  • The 'ASEAN way' of consensus and non-interference in members' internal affairs will confine ASEAN's HADR activities to natural disasters.
  • ASEAN HADR will not feature in humanitarian crises arising from political or ethnic conflict.
  • US use of HADR initiatives to connect with South-east Asian militaries (when needed) will increase.
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