Southeast Asia has witnessed an average economic growth rate of more than 5 percent per year over the past decade. As a result of their economic and political advances, countries in the region have made significant strides in terms of national economic development. Southeast Asians today enjoy greater access to education, clean water, and health services than ever before. Moreover, in just 20 years, the region has halved the proportion of people living on less than a $1.25 per day.
Yet despite this remarkable progress, current and emerging obstacles threaten to prevent the region from fully capitalizing upon its potential. Notably, the region faces growing energy shortfalls, maritime security challenges including piracy, and the trafficking in humans, drugs, and small arms. Each of these problems threaten to undermine the economic gains witnessed over the past quarter century. Moreover, these perils not only affect the most vulnerable communities and peoples of the region, but together they can overwhelm legitimate state structures and disrupt the flow of goods upon which the region has come to depend.
To begin ameliorating these interconnected challenges, we must aim to build the human, legal, technical, and financial capacity necessary to guard against them. To that end, this conference report proposes an innovative approach that seeks to better leverage existing resources, identify new streams of assistance, and bridge the security/development divide. Two proven platforms for this dual-benefit approach are presented: UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (counterterrorism) and UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (nonproliferation).
Developing an international security strategy based on mutual self-interest, rather than simply imposing legal mandates, will build near-term trust and yield long-term buy-in from partner states, thus ensuring sustainability. This, in turn, will strengthen the counterterrorism and nonproliferation regimes.
In this report, Brian Finlay, senior associate and director of Stimson’s Managing Across Boundaries (MAB) program, and coauthors Johan Bergenas, research analyst and deputy director, and Esha Mufti, research assistant, provide targeted recommendations building a holistic approach that bridges hard and softer security objectives with development needs worldwide.