Beyond Boundaries In Southeast Asia

January 08, 2013

Over the past 30 years, globalization has revolutionized international relations. The net positive result has been soaring economic growth and burgeoning prospects for peace and prosperity around the globe. Southeast Asia, in particular, has witnessed an average economic growth rate of more than 5 percent per year in 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 threatens 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 licit 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. Accordingly, in this report, Brian Finlay, senior associate and managing director of Stimson's Managing Across Boundaries (MAB) program, 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.The report is the sixth in a series that seeks innovative approaches to implementing UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1373 by pragmatically pairing states in need of development assistance with those states willing to offer such assistance under the auspices of national security.