Debating Non-Traditional Security in the Asia-Pacific: Discourse in the Making of an ASEAN Community


 On December 31, 2015, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) formally announced the establishment of its security community. This is despite the fact that the grouping departs in many ways from the conventional understanding of what a ‘security community’ is, has not fulfilled even its self-defined criteria for claiming this status, and is faced with major security challenges, ranging from the South China Sea disputes to the Rohingya crisis. This conference addresses the ambiguity of ASEAN’s status as a security community in the making, through an emphasis on the role of discourse in international relations. It is argued that ASEAN is best conceived as a ‘community of discourse,’ produced and reproduced through an ongoing debate over the meaning of regional security. The demonstration zooms in on ‘non-traditional security’ as a central element of the regional security discourse. It draws from interviews with officials, experts and NGOs engaged in the ASEAN-led regional process, public documentation, as well as observation of informal and non-governmental diplomatic meetings in Southeast Asia.

 About the speaker:

Stéphanie Martel is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Institute of Asian Research (UBC) and at the Centre for International Peace and Security Studies (McGill University). She received her PhD in Political Science from the Université de Montréal in June 2017. Her research interests cover multilateral diplomacy, global security, and discourse theory in international relations, with a focus on Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific. She is currently in residence at IAR’s Centre for Southeast Asia Research, working on a research project about the role of discourse in the ASEAN security community-building process. She will be taking up an Assistant Professor’s position at Queen’s University in January 2018.