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The International Security Program

The International Security Program looks at strategic dynamics and security risks globally, with an emphasis on Australia's region of Indo-Pacific Asia. Its research spans strategic competition and the risks of conflict in Asia, security implications of the rise of China and India, maritime security, nuclear arms control, Australian defence policy and the changing character of conflict. The Program draws on a network of experts in Australia, Asia and globally, and is supported by diverse funding sources including grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the Nuclear Threat Initiative. It convenes international policy dialogues such as the 2017 Australia-ROK Emerging Leaders International Security Forum and has a record of producing leading-edge, influential reports.

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Latest Publications

A question for alliance critics: What's your alternative?

This is an edited version of remarks delivered at the National Press Club in Canberra on 21 February, 2017, in a panel discussion with Sir Angus Houston. The full text can be found here, and a video of the event here. It is easy to be troubled by Donald Trump and the unpredictability of his

Will the Western Pacific’s long peace endure?

The security picture in the Western Pacific is marked by maritime boundary disputes, nationalist enmities and rapidly modernising militaries. Against that backdrop, the prolonged absence of war between states poses an analytical conundrum. How has the region stayed so peaceful for so long?

Australia and South Korea: Time to expand co-operation

This week the Lowy Institute's International Security Program, supported by the Korea Foundation, is hosting the Australia-Republic of Korea (ROK) Emerging Leaders International Security Forum in Sydney and Canberra, bringing together scholars and future policymakers focused on the bilateral

Missed opportunities at the Australia-Japan summit

Although it took place at Kirribilli House, just around the corner from where I live, I can unfortunately claim no inside information on last weekend’s Sydney summit between Prime Ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Shinzo Abe. From this nosy neighbour’s reading though, the outcomes on defence and

'Tis the season to be wary

The advent season has brought with it a renewed focus on the globalised nature of terrorism. This week’s grim tally of atrocities includes the assassination of the Russian ambassador at an art gallery in Ankara by a Turkish policeman, the death of 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market at the

Neil, an Australian terrorist

The detention of Neil Prakash is of significant interest to Australia but perhaps less so for other countries. At this point, so little is known among open sources about the circumstances of his capture that it is difficult to make definitive statements about what it means. There are certainly many

Trump and the Iran nuclear deal

The election of Donald Trump raises many uncertainties about the future direction of US foreign policy, including nuclear weapons and nuclear non-proliferation. A major aspect of this is the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), concluded between

Dominoes in the South China Sea

First the Philippines, now Malaysia is being drawn deeper into China's orbit. Are dominoes teetering again in Southeast Asia? The limitations of that metaphor were clear in the Cold War, and are even more so now given the region’s much greater geopolitical fluidity. Originally published in the

Law of the sea: Activist judges open a pandora's box

The recent judgement by the Arbitral Tribunal constituted under Annex VII of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the nature of the features in the South China Sea caused some stir in both foreign ministries and among international lawyers, and not just because it favoured the

US Navy carries out third FONOP in South China Sea

The US Navy has carried out another freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea. According to defence sources, it was conducted, on the morning of 10 May, by the USS William P. Lawrence, a guided missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands

Russia’s Asian rebalance

In this Lowy Institute Analysis, Dr Matthew Sussex surveys the security, energy, and regional engagement implications of Russia’s pivot to Asia and argues that despite numerous challenges confronting Putin, Moscow’s rebalance should be taken seriously

Nuclear-armed submarines in Indo-Pacific Asia: Stabiliser or menace?

In this Report, Lowy Institute Research Associate Brendan Thomas-Noone and Nonresident Fellow Professor Rory Medcalf examine the implications of sea-based nuclear weapons for strategic stability in the Indo-Pacific. This paper is part of a wider research and outreach project on nuclear

Peace talks in Afghanistan: The case for optimism

There were reports last week that the Afghan Government has officially met with the Taliban for the first time in years in Islamabad to discuss the beginning of formal peace talks – talks which could start as soon as the end of Ramadan later this week. This follows a series of unofficial meetings

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