Interstate conflict in the Asia-Pacific represents a serious threat not only to millions of people in some of the most heavily and most densely populated countries on Earth, but to the global economy as a whole, for which the Asia-Pacific is increasingly the engine.

Begun in 2014, this project aims to make major contributions to the processes of security governance in the Asia-Pacific by designing and demonstrating the utility of empathy-building measures. The project’s premise is that insecurity in the region is a function not of insufficient architecture, but of low-grade communication and a lack of mutual understanding.

The Asia-Pacific region is famously home to an “alphabet soup” of associations, forums, meetings, processes and other security governance mechanisms, making it the most thickly “governed” region of the world in this respect. Yet it is also the most precarious, as home to three of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints — the Korean peninsula, the East China Sea and the South China Sea — each of which implicates at least two nuclear-armed states.

Researchers with the project are exploring two key current concepts in the Asia-Pacific security discourse — confidence and trust — and their relationship to empathy.  They will further explore practical mechanisms for promoting confidence, trust and empathy in bilateral dialogues and multilateral settings. Their work will be shared through CIGI publications and political and public outreach activities in Canada and in participating countries in the Asia-Pacific.

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On Maritime Security, G7 Leaders Pivot Toward International Law

In this Sept. 17, 2015, file photo, Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., commander of US Pacific Command, walks past a photograph showing an island that China is building on the Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea, as he prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on maritime security strategy in the Asia-Pacific region. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Decoding Chinese moves in the South China Sea: Is Beijing getting more assertive, or more worried?


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David A. Welch

CIGI Senior Fellow

David A. Welch is a CIGI senior fellow and professor of political science at the University of Waterloo. An award-winning author and scholar, David is an expert in foreign policy decision making and international security, with an emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.