by Capt. Brad Smith, APCSS Academic Chief of Staff –

Participants of the Pacific Rim Security – Managing the Global Commons conference pose for a group photo between sessions.

Participants of the Pacific Rim Security – Managing the Global Commons conference pose for a group photo between sessions.

HONOLULU — “Pacific Rim Security – Managing the Global Commons” was the focus of a conference hosted by the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS), Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (CHDS), Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) Stanford University, and Pacific Council on International Policy (PCIP) Jan. 12-14, 2009 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. Dr. William Perry, former U.S. Secretary of Defense actively participated as keynote speaker, synthesizing events and delivering final remarks.

The conference provided a focused dialogue to gain insights and mutual understanding of Pacific-Rim regional policies, initiate linkages, and explore potential collaborative security strategies for managing the global commons. Moderated panel discussions and guest speakers focused on China and Maritime Challenges, U.S Pacific Maritime Perspectives, Expansion of the Panama Canal, Opening of the Northern Passage, Challenges and Impacts on Pac-Rim Security, Energy and Resources Across the Pacific, and Coordinating for security – Port Security/Maritime Info-sharing. Robust interactive question/answer periods and lunch/dinner guest speaker series enabled participants to share unique insights and perspectives and sustain dialogue throughout the Conference about the key issues addressed.

Attending were 45 delegates from 17 nations including: Australia, Canada, Chile, China(Hong Kong), Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam. Delegates were senior government and non-governmental civilian and military leaders, security practitioners, and security studies experts.

Dr. Richard Downie, Director for the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, remarked “the conference enabled the establishment of enduring linkages and high-level dialogue among senior Pacific Rim leaders.” Dr Lee Endress, Academic Dean at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies said that “collectively, the panels demonstrated the profound confluence of economic interests, energy security, environmental impacts (especially climate change), and maritime domain awareness in both Asia and the Americas.”

Key things learned during the course of the proceedings:
(1) The rise of China is viewed differently by Asia-Pacific, the U.S.A. and Latin American countries.
(2) The expansion of the Panama Canal and the opening of the northern passages has possible impact on ports and major trade routes.
(3) The climate change, especially the dramatic melting of the ice cap at the North Pole offers the availability of transpolar sea routes and enormous energy resources.
(4) The centrality of poverty as a fundamental security issue in South America, so compellingly presented by Admiral Stavridis, Commander, U.S Southern Command.
(5) The troubling lack of PACRIM and, in fact, global cooperation on energy. The zero-sum nature of many national energy strategies makes global energy a big negative security issue with potential for conflict.

Building on these insights, APCSS and CHDS are placing special emphasis in their executive education on the themes and topics addressed and aim to work with regional organizations with the most potential to effect cooperation among PACRIM nations.

Dr. Perry concluded the event with a concise summary of the entire conference, acknowledging presenters in turn and praising the sophisticated and productive level of panel discussions.

In closing, he noted that the event included “the right people, with the right speakers, examining the right topics.” He thanked both Regional Center and all three teams (APCSS/CHDS/FSI) for a program ” very well conceived, laid out, and executed”…with a final remark for future collaboration … “Let’s do it again!”