Regional Security Architecture


CSCAP Indonesia, CSCAP Malaysia, CSCAP Japan, AUS CSCAP, CSCAP Philippines, and CSCAP India


The proliferation of multilateral security processes and institutions in Asia-Pacific in the wake of the Cold War is a testament to the region's constructive and collegial spirit in addressing the region security challenges. The formation of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1994, for instance, paved the way for the region to approach security in a collaborative and expansive manner. More importantly, the ARF offered a novel departure from competitive security arrangements. Although the ARF was followed by a myriad of other processes such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Defence Ministerial Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus) and ASEAN Maritime Forum Plus, the US-led hubs and spokes system continues to be viewed as a stabilizing force and a critical pillar in regional security. This raises the question of how the region reconciles the bilateral alliance system with the ASEAN-led multilateral security systems and dialogues?

The dense and sometimes overlapping security processes and institutions inevitably give rise to questions of redundancy and duplication. How does the region's multiple and varied security related processes interface and relate to each other? Fundamentally, does the expansion of multilateral processes make the region safer? Although the idea of an overarching regional architecture has been proposed in the past - the Asia Pacific Community - there seems to be little traction for a pan-Asian-Pacific framework. The region appears more comfortable to pursue its security interests in a piecemeal manner, giving preference to functional cooperation over overarching structures. Has the mood changed? Is there any merit in elevating the EAS from a "strategic forum" to a format that will be more substantive and outcome-driven?

Against this backdrop, this proposal is presented to the CSCAP Steering Committee for consideration to establish a Study Group on the Regional Security Architecture to undertake a systematic and focused effort to examine the region's security framework. In particular, the proposed study group will focus its deliberations in studying how existing structures and processes could be improved and streamlined to enhance regional security.

Specific agenda

(a) To identify the main attributes of the existing regional security architecture and examine their functions and impact on regional stability and security.

(b) To study the merits, strength and challenges of ASEAN-centered and non-ASEAN centered processes and structures.

(c) To evaluate how the region's institutional security designs were able to respond and adapt to the power shifts and strategic transformation in the Asia-Pacific.

(d) To identify proposals and recommendations to streamline and improve on the existing regional security structures and processes.


The Study Group will endeavour to produce a policy-relevant memorandum to the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and other security sector stakeholders such as the ADMM, ADMM Plus and EAS. In the interim, the Study Group will present its initial findings during the upcoming CSCAP General Conference.


Memorandum No. 26 - Towards Effective Regional Security Architecture for the Asia Pacific. This memorandum was approved by the 41st CSAP Steering Committee Meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 5 June 2014.

2nd meeting: 11-12 February 2014, Jakarta, Indonesia.

1st meeting: 3-5 September 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 
Download the Co-Chairs report.