The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue is Asia's premier defence summit, a unique meeting of ministers and delegates from over 50 countries.
The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore is the most important regular gathering of defence professionals in the Asia-Pacific region, a vital annual fixture in the diaries of ministers and their civilian and military chiefs of staff. Since its launch in 2002 the Dialogue has built confidence and fostered practical security cooperation, by facilitating easy communication and fruitful contact among the region’s most important defence and security policymakers.
All speaking slots for plenary sessions and break-out groups at the event are allocated to ministers, other senior official delegates or distinguished legislators with strong defence credentials. Several simultaneous break-out groups are held during one half-day of the summit, allowing in-depth discussion of a greater variety of critical regional security topics.
The Dialogue’s agenda is intentionally wide-ranging, reflecting the many defence and security challenges facing a large and diverse region. Each year it recognises emerging as well as established regional security concerns. Past speakers have included prime ministers and senior ministers from China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Australia and other regional powers, as well as the United States.
Over the years ministers have used the Dialogue to propose and advance initiatives on important security issues. These include maritime security in the Malacca Strait, the implications of regional states’ submarine capabilities, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, regional security architecture, humanitarian and disaster relief, and the idea of a ‘no first use of force’ agreement in the South China Sea.
Official delegations have made increasingly intensive and effective use of the Dialogue as a venue for bilateral, trilateral and multilateral meetings with security partners. While the precise content of these private meetings has usually remained confidential, they have sometimes resulted in public joint statements on defence and security cooperation in the region.