Over the last decade, the Asia-Pacific region has faced substantial and diverse security challenges despite its overall dynamism and growing prosperity, and as a result has become an increasingly important focus for the IISS. One-third of the IISS membership is located in the region, and over the years the region has come to figure ever more prominently in the Institute’s research programme and publications.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies (Asia) Ltd, a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity, was incorporated in the Republic of Singapore on 20 September 2001 to allow the IISS to demonstrate its growing commitment to the region and to develop closer relations with its members in the Asia-Pacific.
In 2002, it inaugurated a major experiment in defence diplomacy in the region, convening for the first time a conference for defence ministers from across the Asia-Pacific. Since then, the Shangri-La Dialogue (more formally, the Asia Security Summit), held in Singapore each June, has become a key feature in the calendars of not only defence ministers, but also their top officials, military chiefs and heads of intelligence.
During 2004, IISS–Asia took possession of a suite of offices in Republic Plaza at the heart of the city-state’s financial district. Though operating with a lean staff, it has quickly taken on additional functions, including organising a seminar series for local defence attaches and IISS members, both corporate and individual. The seminars feature presentations by visiting IISS staff, distinguished analysts in the security field, and senior government officials.
The IISS now intends to broaden the activities of IISS–Asia further by establishing an active Singapore-based research programme closely linked to the Institute’s overall research and publication priorities. Research conducted from IISS–Asia will be concerned with not only Asia-Pacific but strategic and security issues in other regions. Typical of the issues on which IISS–Asia will focus its research are those that link the Asia-Pacific with the Middle East, such as proliferation challenges and the maritime dimensions of energy security. The research programme will include IISS conferences and seminars to be held in Singapore and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.