Defence Diplomacy in Southeast Asia: Trends, Prospects, and Challenges

Below is a snippet introduction to my chapter, “Defense Diplomacy in Southeast Asia: Trends, Prospects and Challenges,” published in From ‘Boots’ to ‘Brogues’: The Rise of Defence Diplomacy in Southeast Asia, edited by Bhubindar Singh and Tan See Seng. RSIS Monograph 21 (Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies), pp. 71 – 89.

This chapter seeks to describe and assess key trends in defence diplomacy in Southeast Asia. Specifically, it seeks to highlight key issues and trends in multilateral defence diplomacy under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) since 1994. In addition, to complement the discussion, this chapter will also use the case of Indonesia’s bilateral defence diplomacy to highlight how bilateral defence relations among and between Southeast Asian states remain a crucial part of regional security architecture. By highlighting key trends in multilateral and bilateral defence diplomacy in Southeast Asia (at least from Jakarta’s point of view), this chapter seeks to achieve two main goals: first, to make sense of the flurry of defence and security-related informal and formal meetings in Southeast Asia in recent years; and second, to infer key policy lessons for future regional architecture building in the region.

On the multilateral front, between 2000 and 2009, ASEAN and the ARF held, on average, 15 formal and informal meetings annually involving defence and security officials. This is in addition to the vari- ous multilateral security cooperation activities organised by the United States, Japan, China, or those under the “ASEAN-Plus 1” umbrella. Most recently, the advent of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and ADMM-Plus 8 has been seen as a crucial milestone of regional security building. Meanwhile, bilaterally, defence relations among South- east Asian states have also gradually improved as the number of office exchanges, joint exercises and patrols and others has increased.

The full Monograph can be downloaded here.



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