Publication: The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2017
28 August 2017
The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) organised its 16th annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on 2–4 June 2017. We are delighted to present this report, which summarises the Dialogue’s open proceedings, including all plenary and special sessions. The full transcripts of these sessions are available on the IISS website. For the first time, the report also includes a section on the Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Programme (SEAYLP).
The 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue – which opened with a keynote address from Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – provided participating defence ministers, top-ranking defence ministry officials, armed forces chiefs and other senior members of national security establishments from the Asia-Pacific region with unequalled opportunities to discuss current and emerging security problems in the region, and to develop their cooperation in response to these challenges. This year, 487 delegates participated in the Dialogue, 48% of them from governments and armed forces. Twenty-eight countries that regularly participate in the Shangri-La Dialogue sent government delegations, 23 of which were led by ministers, deputy ministers, permanent secretaries or military chiefs. Thirteen governments that are not regular participants were also represented officially, in two cases by full ministers. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the European Union (EU) and NATO also sent high-level delegations, and there was a particularly strong United States (US) Congressional Delegation comprising three senators and eight members of the House.
As well as the plenary and special sessions, which involved non-government as well as official delegates and were covered extensively by both international and regional media, government delegates participated in a large number of private bilateral, trilateral and multilateral meetings with their counterparts from other participating countries. An important initiative at the 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue was an informal meeting between the US Secretary of Defense and the defence ministers of Southeast Asian governments. The IISS hosted an opening ministerial reception for national delegation leaders, and Singapore’s defence minister hosted two ministerial roundtables. For the second time, the IISS organised the Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Programme, which is intended to stimulate thinking and debate security questions among a new generation of strategists from the region. The 2017 Programme involved 36 Young Leaders, who benefited from an additional sideline that included meetings with the Australian prime minister and the commander of US Pacific Command.
The substance of the latest IISS Shangri-La Dialogue reflected the security concerns of regional governments, their international interlocutors and the analytical community. There was naturally much debate relating to developments on the Korean Peninsula and in the South China Sea, and about the threat posed by Islamist terrorism linked to the Middle East. Uncertainty in the region over the commitment and policies of the Trump administration in the US also provided an important focus for discussion.
The IISS is grateful to the government of Singapore for its continuing generous support, logistical and other, of the Shangri-La Dialogue process under the Memorandum of Understanding agreed by the IISS and Singapore’s Ministry of Defence in 2012. As part of this process, the fifth IISS Fullerton Forum: Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa Meeting was convened successfully in late January 2017 and provided an important opportunity to explore substantive topics that were developed further at the Dialogue.
We also thank the following commercial lead sponsors for their additional, vital financial support for the Shangri-La Dialogue: Airbus Group, BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, and to main sponsors the Asahi Shimbun and ST Engineering. The Shangri-La Hotel generously sponsored the Dialogue’s opening dinner. The IISS looks forward to developing these partnerships, and forging new ones, in the interest of advancing regional security dialogue and cooperation through the Shangri-La Dialogue.
Dr John Chipman CMG,
IISS Director-General and Chief Executive
Dr Tim Huxley,
Executive Director, IISS–Asia