Dr Alistair Cook, RSIS Singapore: Peace and Conflict in South East Asia

Dr Alistair D B Cook is Coordinator of the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Programme and Research Fellow at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS Centre), S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore.

His research interests focus geographically on the Asia-Pacific and Myanmar, in particular and thematically on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), foreign policy and regional cooperation. He has taught undergraduate, graduate and professional development courses at Purdue University, the University of Melbourne, Deakin University, Nanyang Technological University, the Australian National University, Singapore Civil Defence Academy and SAFTI.

Peace, Conflict and Disaster Governance in Southeast Asia: An ASEAN Journey

Across Southeast Asia, states and societies have experienced human suffering as a result of conflict, disasters and a combination of both. This seminar maps and assesses the developments of both conflict and disaster management structures and processes within the regional organisation – ASEAN. It pays attention to the commitment made by regional states to develop a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capacity in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and Earthquake. This commitment paved the way for the world’s first – and currently only – regional legally-binding disaster governance agreement signed in 2008. A decade ago, the Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response laid the foundations for what has emerged as a functional cooperative mechanism to deliver humanitarian assistance through disaster management. This led to the establishment of the regional operational coordination centre – the AHA Centre – in 2011, which was put immediately to the test when Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines. Subsequently the AHA Centre has coordinated response and developed institutional capacity at an impressive rate of expansion. Along with its successes came challenges and in 2017 ASEAN Member States mandated the AHA Centre with coordinating the regional humanitarian response to the Siege of Marawi in the Southern Philippines and to the Rohingya Exodus from Rakhine State in Myanmar. This seminar will also reflect upon these challenges and the state of regional mechanisms to govern not only humanitarian affairs but longer-term issues of peace and conflict.

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