ASPI’s International Program explores challenges and opportunities for Australia as they relate to maintaining international peace and security. It also contributes to broader international research efforts on multilateral security issues. The program aims to:
deepen understanding within Australia and internationally of global security issues and multilateral peace operations
facilitate engagement among key stakeholders in government, the private sector and civil society on issues relating to international peace and security
provide policy advice on emerging challenges and opportunities for Australia to contribute to efforts to maintain international peace and security.
In 2019–20, the program focused on three strands of work:
multilateralism and the UN peace and security agenda, with a focus on the reform of UN peace operations and the protection of civilians
women, peace and security (WPS)
Australia’s relationship and engagement with Africa.
The program focused on a major project throughout 2019–20 examining the contributions of countries in the Pacific to UN peacekeeping. The project, which is being undertaken with the support of the Australian Civil-Military Centre, examined the different objectives and priorities of countries in the region when it comes to deploying personnel to UN peace operations. The head of the International Program, Lisa Sharland, and researcher Genevieve Feely conducted research in Timor-Leste, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands before Covid-19 restricted international travel. While the timeline for the project was delayed due to Covid-19, preliminary research findings from the project informed a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s inquiry into Defence engagement with Pacific Island nations in June 2020. A research report on the findings from the research will be published by early 2021.
Program staff also continued to engage in collaborative research projects with other think tanks and researchers. Lisa Sharland co-authored a research paper for the International Peace Institute titled Partners and competitors: forces operating in parallel to UN peace operations, presenting at a launch of the paper to member states and UN officials in New York in November 2019. She also engaged in research for a project for the Effectiveness of Peace Operations Network examining the UN missions in Cyprus, which will continue into 2020–21. The program also continued to deliver analysis on the protection of civilians in the context of UN peacekeeping missions, publishing a Special Report on Protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping in July 2019, and Lisa Sharland presented to participants at a UN Senior Mission Leaders’ Course on the topic in November 2019.
WPS remained an ongoing priority for research and engagement. In March 2020, the program published a Special Report by external contributor Louise Allen titled Australia’s implementation of women, peace and security: promoting regional security. For the fourth year in a row, the program worked closely with The Strategist team to commission another series of posts on WPS to coincide with International Women’s Day in 2020, as well as the 20th anniversary of the agenda. The series included analysis from UN Institute for Disarmament Research director Renata Dwan, as well as a range of academics and practitioners. The series will be published in a forthcoming Strategic Insights report. Lisa Sharland also contributed a chapter on gender equality and international security to the first volume of After Covid-19.
Plans to host masterclasses on WPS and gender, cyber and technology were postponed due to Covid-19; however, the International Program continued to work closely with the International Cyber Policy Centre to further research on the intersection of gender and cybersecurity with a range of international stakeholders.
The program’s engagement on WPS continues to complement activities being undertaken as part of ASPI’s Women in Defence and Security Network, as well as interviews on ASPI’s podcast Policy, Guns and Money. For example, the program facilitated the delivery of a podcast with three gender advisers from the ADF in early 2020 to facilitate a broader discussion on the role of gender advice in the ADF.
The program continued to foster public debate and discussion through the delivery of presentations on a range of topics, including the protection of civilians and peacekeeping and women, peace and security at seminars and conferences hosted by the Australian War College, the Australian Civil-Military Centre, the Australian Council for International Development annual conference, the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres and the International Forum for the Challenges of Peace Operations.
In terms of Australia–Africa engagement, Lisa Sharland continued to engage as a member of DFAT’s Advisory Group on Australia–Africa Relations and take part in discussions on security at the annual Africa Down Under conference in Perth. The program also initiated the delivery of a special episode of the ASPI podcast for Africa Day 2020.