Regionalism and Southeast Asia

In Contemporary Southeast Asia (3rd Edition). Edited by Alice Ba and Mark Beeson. Palgrave. 2017 (Forthcoming). 

This chapter provides an entry level analysis of the origins, evolution and contemporary nature of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In it I explore how the decisions made since 1967 both 'made sense' to regional elites at the time they were made and helped condition the choices that subsequent generations have made as they expand and reform ASEAN. 


Can Multilateralism and Security Communities Bring Security to the Asia-Pacific

In Asia-Pacific Security: An Introduction. Edited by Andrew Carr and Joanne Wallis. Georgetown University Press. 2016. 

This chapter introduces both the academic debates about multilateralism and the reality of multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. This chapter distinguishes between different types of multilateral cooperation, most notably the idea of a security community, as well as presenting the reasons why multilateral cooperation is assumed to be a good thing. Using these ideas this chapter then explores the successes and shortcomings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN+3 process, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the East Asia Summit (EAS). These examples of multilateralism are characterised by similar shortcomings; a lack of substantive output, the unresolved question of the right size, the lack of leadership and the role of sovereignty. The chapter closes by considering how greater US attention to Asia-Pacific multilateralism will lead to both a greater demand for multilateral cooperation and a greater tension about the size, shape and purpose of that cooperation. 


International Relations Theory and the Humanitarian Space

in Negotiating Relief: The Politics of the Humanitarian Space. Edited by Michele Acuto. Hurst Press 2014

In 2008 I was asked by Professor Raymond Apthorpe to speak to a group of students, many of whom worked or wished to work in humanitarian agencies, about the relationship between international relations theorising (IRT) and humanitarian assistance. I was unsure what to say, and why it would be relevant. Surely those interested and/or engaged in humanitarian activities would have little time, and even less inclination, to listen to the supposed wisdom of theoreticians. When engaged in the hectic and often hostile humanitarian space what possible utility could the cool abstraction of realism offer those who were not only getting their hands dirty but regularly risking their lives. Reviewing the literature it was clear that certainly was a relationship between IRT and humanitarianism but the then shape of this relationship was not particularly useful for my audience.  Humanitarianism was an area of action that those theoretically minded studied for useful pieces of evidence to support, critique or develop particular theoretical concerns (see for example the work of Alex Bellamy who writes passionately that certain critical theoretical lenses are preferable to others or Michael Pugh who seeks to use peacekeeping as evidence of the utility of Critical Theory). This, whilst interesting, seemed inappropriate and inadequate for the task set me where the emphasis had to be on what they, in the room, could use IRT for. As I pondered what to say an answer started to emerge. Regardless of the different forms, arguments and approaches that exist in IRT, all theoretical arguments are ultimately predicated on assertions about the motives, interests and identities of actors. Was it possible that humanitarian actors could benefit from what theorising suggested shapes and drive actors? A knowledge of the different arguments and positions that a range of theoretical perspectives takes may equip the practitioner with at least a set of possible expectations that both help delineate the feasible and practicable in the humanitarian space and stands as a basis to interrogate the motives and interests of not only others but also themselves. What I was thinking then, and shall expand on here, is that the relationship between IRT and humanitarianism is not an arrow that points in one direction. Instead, it is a path that can be travelled in either direction. IRT benefits from studying humanitarianism but through appreciating the arguments about the motives and interests of actors so humanitarians can benefit from theory.