Participants of the EAP First Annual Conference:
From front to left: Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Wang Dong, Hoang Anh Tuan, Wang Yizhou, Zou Keyuan, Peter Wallensteen (behind), Isak Svensson, Moon Chung-in, Susanne Schaftenaar, Thommy Svensson, Stein Tönnesson, Erik Melander. Standing from left: Mei Shanshan, Jong Kun Choi, Tang Chih-Mao, Ryu Yongwook, Anders Engvall, Bates Gill, Thomas Nielsen, Robert S. Ross, Mikael Weissmann, Elin Bjarnegård, Timo Kivimäki, Börje Ljunggren.
The EAP First Annual conference 2011 has been held in Uppsala from 16 - 18 Sept. The Chair of the Advisory Board, Peter Wallensteen's, Eight Points Summary on the East Asian Peace can be found full text below. The schedule, a list of participants, and abstracts from the papers presented at the conference can be accessed here:
Eight Points on the East Asian Peace
by Professor Peter Wallensteen, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University
Eight-point summary comment delivered at the concluding session of the East Asian Peace Program’s First Annual Conference, Uppsala, Sweden, September 16-18, 2011
Eight is the lucky number, and there are eight points that came out with a particular strength in this meeting.
1. East Asia: Who are in the Region? In the founding documents of the program 18 states are listed, 6 in Northeast Asia and 12 in Southeast Asia. These are all countries located in the geographical region, but does this capture all important state actors influencing the region? There is one obvious No. 19 that was frequently alluded to during our deliberations: The United States. Should it be regarded as a member and thus included in statistics? Would US involvements in other parts of the world also be part of the program’s concern? Or should the US be regarded as an independent (unpredictable?) variable? Clearly the region is more internationalized or globalized than many others. Global considerations also enter the region’s dynamics.
However, if this question is raised it also opens-up questions about other influential actors and their role in the region’s relations. Some references have been made to a No. 20: Russia, a No. 21: India, a No. 22: Australia. Is it farfetched also to think of a No. 23: the EU?
How the program can handle such actors needs to be considered. There are many ways ranging from commissioned papers to specific themes at annual program conferences.
2. East Asia: Is it One Region? Many papers have drawn a distinction between Northeast and Southeast Asia. There are no armed conflicts since 1980 in the former, but many in the latter, but the dangers of escalation to large scale warfare may be higher in the former than in the latter. During the conference there were a number of suggested explanations for conflict patterns that were specific to one or the other region, notably the role of the presidency, the history of state formation, gender dimensions, etc. It was also claimed that while inter-state relations had become more peaceful in Southeast Asia, they had become more conflictual in Northeast Asia in recent years. Thus, the program will have to balance region-wide explanations with country or area-specific ones. This interaction between levels and explanations may be beneficial for a deeper understanding of war and peace.
3. What May Democracy Explain? One general explanation figured prominently at this particular conference, it was also its theme: democracy. At first it seemed that democracy would not be a plausible explanation for the absence or limited extent of violence in the whole region. However, several studies looked at alternative ways of measuring democracy, pointing to the possible effects of observing lower scores on the democracy scales; or taking long term developments into consideration. It was also pointed out that democratization in one country may have effects for peace both inside that country, on its relations with other countries, and on internal developments in other countries. Thus, there may be more to the question of democracy than just the lack of war between democracies, and thus the conference stimulated further thinking on the short and long term effects of democratization on peace in the region.
4. Are There Solid Alternative Explanations? A number of alternatives were put forward and many seemed fruitful in addition to customary military balance (‘realist’) variables, notably matters of identity distance, national priority shifts, gender and, not the least economic factors. The economics of peace may be a necessary topic for further exploration. The idea of a capitalist peace (i.e. the reverse of Lenin’s expectations of capitalist wars) is suggestive, but it is unclear what the causal mechanisms would be. Would economic growth necessarily lead to protracted peace, or could it make some countries stronger than others and fuel rivalries? Would economic growth combined with regional integration be a better option, since it would restrain the option to resort to hostile behavior among states? Would economic growth with integration and a redefinition of the ‘national project’ as one of welfare building, be the ultimate combination for long-term peace? Or is it the transnational effects of trade and mutual investments that is the key? Possibly economists could contribute to such a discussion. This is something for the Core Group to consider.
5. Is there a Research Method for this Problem? The methodological challenge of addressing a zero variable came up at various instances of the conference. It is customary to explain war, but this program focuses on non-war: Why has there not been any major war in the region for such a long period? For instance: To start a war could be the matter of one decision by one actor at one moment in time. To prevent such an occurrence, however, requires a number of decisions by many over a long period of time. So to explain non-war requires an understanding of habits, learning and expectations that have to be shared among diverse societies, and probably seen in a similar light by all of them. Explaining peace, in other words, is different from explaining war, and there may be important methodological lessons to be learned from the program.
6. To What should East Asia be Compared? The observation of a reduction of war in East Asia builds on a comparison with the rest of the world. The region displays a different pattern from other regions, notably in the 1980s. But are there daring cross-regional comparisons that could be done? Could Northeast Asia today be compared to the situation in Europe in the middle of the 1970s? Could a systematic comparison of the end of the Cold War in different regions generate significant lessons? The matter of a sustained peace would require an investigation of other longer periods of peace. What would a study of the long European peace before World War I tell us? After all, it lasted for 40 years and was, by many, seen as a stabilizing system of alliances that would keep the peace.
7. How Solid is the East Asian Peace? There were data presented at the conference that did not fit with the overall pattern, notably on militarized inter-state disputes (MIDs), territorial disputes that gave rise to strong sentiments, secondary support patterns that went on much longer than one might assume (and with various kinds of external actors, such as Islamist networks). Perhaps such information could be treated as indicators of the fragility of the present ‘arrangement’. Further to this, one must take into consideration that there are arms deliveries, unresolved territorial disputes, financial uncertainties, very few peace agreements and very little resort to extra-regional mediation. Indicators of fragility would have to be part of an understanding of the present ‘peace’ in East Asia.
8. Does the Program have a Message? Some consideration was given to the output from the program. The plan includes some 150 papers, a number of articles, book chapters, books and other presentations. There are good reasons to make the website as attractive and lively as possible. It may also be a good idea to work towards some form of Concerned Scientists’ Statement on the East Asian Peace? It would be based on the reports and general consensus that the participants share and perhaps be a statement that also could generate interest. It could point to the strengths as well as the weakness of the present state of the East Asian Peace, possibly including general recommendations or courses of action. For the time being, it was left as one more matter for the program Core Group and the Advisory Board to consider.
The Advisory Board of the East Asian Peace program at Uppsala University is chaired by Professor Peter Wallensteen (Uppsala University), and has the following members, all of whom took part in its constitutive meeting on 16 September 2011:
• Professor Kevin Clements (University of Otago, New Zealand)
• Director Bates Gill (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI)
• Ambassador Börje Ljunggren (former Swedish ambassador to Vietnam and China and co-ordinator, Stockholm China Forum)•Professor Moon Chung-in (Yonsei University, Seoul)
• Professor Robert S. Ross (Boston College)
• Professor Thommy Svensson (Stockholm China Alliance and Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Copenhagen)
• Professor Wang Yizhou (Beijing University).