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Lowy Institute: Policy Briefs





Policy Briefs
These are designed to address a particular, current policy issue and to suggest solutions. They are deliberately prescriptive, specifically addressing two questions: What is the problem? What should be done?
The Missing Anchor: Why the EU Should Join the CPTPP, October 2021. For its members, including Australia, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is an important pillar for ensuring a rules-based, market-orientated trade environment in East Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region. However, without the United States anchoring the agreement, the CPTPP risks underachieving on the original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) goal of strengthening and deepening the “rules of the road”[1] for the regional trading system. US domestic politics militate against Washington’s return to the agreement, leaving the question of the CPTPP’s ability to secure regional trade rules and norms in doubt. China’s formal request to accede to the CPTPP, made in September 2021, poses difficult questions for the future of the club, with the potential to sow divisions in the existing membership on the way forward...

Bridging Papua New Guinea’s Information Divide, July 2021. Papua New Guinea’s public broadcaster, the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), plays a critical role in connecting and informing the nation, especially those citizens without access to other forms of communication. However, the public broadcaster’s transmission infrastructure is degraded and fails to reach a national audience. This is a critical problem ahead of nationwide elections scheduled for mid-2022. Targeted investment by Australia and other international donors can re-establish an effective nationwide radio service in time for the 2022 elections by contracting offshore shortwave broadcasters to retransmit NBC’s national service to the entire country. Further investment can re-establish critical onshore transmitters in time for the vote. Beyond the elections, NBC needs ongoing support to restructure its operations, and infrastructure to remain relevant, reliable, and able to fulfil its critical role informing and connecting all of the country’s citizens...

Australia's South China Sea Challenges, May 2021. Australia’s current South China Sea policies are under strain from two sides. On the China side, Beijing will not agree to any Code of Conduct that is consistent with the arbitral tribunal ruling it rejects. If the ASEAN member states agree to such a Code of Conduct, Australia cannot support it. On the US side, there is an increasing likelihood that the Biden administration will place more pressure on Australia to conduct freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in support of the 2016 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruling, forcing Australia to choose between damaging our relations with China or rejecting a request from the United States. Australia should coordinate with willing Southeast Asian littoral states to influence future Code of Conduct negotiations and encourage states not to sign up to it if the likely Code is not consistent with the 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling...

Chinese-Australians in the Australian Public Service, April 2021. Chinese–Australian communities are invaluable sources of China-related expertise, yet their people are underrepresented in the country’s public service roles. Possible reasons include limited recruitment efforts, problems with gaining security clearances, failure to match existing skills with public service roles, and preconceptions based on perceived security risks. Where China literacy does exist in the Australian Public Service (APS), it is often underutilised or undervalued. The dearth of China capability means the public service is not drawing on an important source of talent, skills, and advice to develop Australia’s policies on China...

Eyes on the Prize: Australia, China, and the Antarctic Treaty System, February 2021. The Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) provides Australia with a peaceful, non-militarised south; a freeze on challenges to our territorial claim; a ban on mining and an ecosystem-based management of fisheries. But China wants to benefit economically, and potentially militarily, from Antarctica. It is increasingly assertive in the ATS, primarily over fisheries access, and active on the ice. Australia should front load its support for the ATS, increasing both the substance and profile of our Antarctic activities. We should emphasise ATS ideals rather than our claim to Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT). We should work hard internationally to dispel the myth that Antarctica’s resource wealth will be unlocked in 2048 on review of the Madrid Protocol. Inside the ATS, we should play to our strengths in multilateral diplomacy. Canberra should monitor Chinese activities in Antarctica and the ATS and step up its maritime awareness of the Southern Ocean, but refrain from geostrategic panic...

Avoiding a Pacific Lost Decade: Financing the Pacific's COVID-19 Recovery, December 2020. The Pacific faces a potential ‘lost decade' owing to the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and an inability to finance the scale of government largesse needed to limit the damage. A multi-year ‘recovery package’ of at least US$3.5 billion (A$5.0 billion) is needed for the Pacific to fully recover from the pandemic. This should be funded by the region’s official development partners. Australia should establish a US$1.4 billion (A$2 billion) COVID-19 Pacific recovery financing facility, and advocate for other parts of the international community to follow its lead in contributing to the Pacific’s economic recovery. Once Australia has stepped up its own Pacific recovery financing contribution, it will be in a much stronger position to call on other development partners to do the same.

Keeping Indonesia’s Economy Afloat Through the COVID-19 Pandemic, July 2020. Indonesia faces one of the most difficult outlooks in Asia amid the economic pandemic unleashed by COVID-19. The principal economic problem is not the old one of capital flight, but about funding the fiscal response necessary to address a massive once-in-a-lifetime shock. With little on offer from the international system, Indonesia is rightly looking to find its own way, including by having taken the unorthodox step of allowing the central bank to directly finance part of the budget deficit. To enable this, the central bank could establish a clearly defined policy of yield curve stabilisation — buying government bonds in the primary and secondary markets to stabilise bond yields close to ‘normal’ market rates, while providing a readily scalable amount of budget financing...

Emerging from COVID: Policy Responses to the Pandemic, June 2020. Lowy Institute experts provide policy recommendations for Australia to address issues that are critical to the nation's — and the world's — successful emergence from the pandemic.

Table of Contents:

  • Changing Australia’s conversation about Chinese economic coercion
  • Shaping the US approach to China and the rules-based international order
  • Maintaining Australia's security as American power recedes
  • Strengthening the WHO by giving it legal teeth
  • Curing the G20's irrelevance
  • Forming a coalition of competent middle powers to lead on global health problems
  • Managing Australia's economic recovery
  • Assisting Indonesia through the economic pandemic
  • Stepping up in Southeast Asia
  • Helping the Pacific recover from COVID
  • Reviving Australia's aid program
  • Revaluing Australia's diplomacy

Taiwan Flashpoint: What Australia Can Do to Stop the Coming Taiwan Crisis, February 2020. A major strategic crisis is brewing across the Taiwan Strait, one which threatens to be significantly more serious than earlier crises of the 1950s and mid-1990s. Current tensions between China and Taiwan, and the fear that a major conflict could erupt, are generally attributed to Beijing’s growing assertiveness. However, these tensions are ultimately the product of changes in the dynamics of the triangular relationship between China, Taiwan and the United States and, most importantly, the balance of military power underpinning those ties. These tensions have sparked renewed debate in Australia over whether conflict would trigger Australia’s obligations under the ANZUS alliance...

When Turnbull Meets Trump, May 2017. Donald Trump’s election as US president is accelerating a profound global transformation that has huge consequences for Australia. Unlike his predecessors, Trump is less willing to defend the liberal international order that has been of immense benefit to Australia’s security and prosperity. If fully implemented, the US president’s protectionist agenda would be a direct threat to Australia’s economic interests. And the US alliance is coming under unprecedented pressure from China in the region. At home, there are an increasing number of Australians who see a growing gap in both interests and values with a Trump-led America...

The Shape of Australia's Future Engagement with the United Nations, March 2017. Australia is currently bidding for another term on the United Nations Security Council in 2029–30 as well as seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2018–20. But Australia’s broader engagement with the United Nations is patchy and underwhelming. It needs to be upgraded to ensure that Australia has a greater say on global issues that are important to its national interests...

Fiji's Election and Australia: The Terms of Re-Engagement, September 2014. In this Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Melanesia Program Director Jenny Hayward-Jones examines the significance of Fiji’s elections on 17 September for Australian policy towards Fiji. She argues that the election will only be the first step in Fiji’s transition to democracy after eight years of...

The G20 Needs a Growth Strategy, February 2014. In this Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Director of the G20 Studies Centre Mike Callaghan AM argues that the G20 needs to develop a comprehensive growth strategy to lift global growth and create jobs. Callaghan outlines the steps required to develop such a strategy by the Brisbane G20 Summit.

Consular Conundrum: The Rising Demands and Diminishing Means for Assisting Australians Overseas, March 2013 Australians are travelling more than ever. In 2012, they took more than eight million trips overseas, more than double the number a decade ago. Public expectations of the assistance government can provide when travellers encounter trouble are rapidly rising, fuelled by intense media and political...

Football Diplomacy Redux: the 2015 Asian Cup and Australia's Engagement with Asia, March 2013 In 2015 Australia will host the Asian Football Confederation’s Asian Cup, bringing together the top 16 national teams in Asia. The tournament will provide opportunities for government, business and community groups to strengthen their engagement with Asia. In order to understand and leverage those...


Australia-China Ties: In Search of Political Trust, June 2012
Linda Jakobson

Australia's political relationship with China is far less developed than its economic relationship. In Australia-China ties: in search of political trust, Linda Jakobson argues that this is detrimental to Australia's interests because China is not merely an economic power but also a crucial political and security actor in the region. Underdeveloped political and strategic relations between Canberra and Beijing weaken Australia's ability to exert influence regionally. Australia risks being viewed by China's leaders merely as a provider of resources. Moreover, there is a danger that problems in the bilateral relationship will escalate into a crisis due to the lack of familiarity and political trust between key Australian and Chinese decision-makers.

Jakobson recommends that the Australian government take several steps to increase political trust between Canberra and Beijing. Among others, she advocates that Australia should pursue an annual strategic and economic dialogue with China at the Cabinet Minister level. Cabinet Ministers from eight G-20 members already have a regular strategic dialogue with their Chinese counterparts.

The 2012 National Elections in Papua New Guinea: Averting Violence, March 2012
Scott Flower and Jim Leahy

As Papua New Guinea gears up for the national election due to be held mid 2012, there is increasing concern that the electoral process will be marred by violence. With the country already gripped by a series of constitutional crises in the wake of the parliamentary election of Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister in August 2011, flawed elections will further dent public confidence in the government’s ability to uphold democratic principles. Authors Scott Flower and Jim Leahy sketch out the factors which could exacerbate tensions in the 2012 national elections and set out a series of recommended actions to avert the violence.

Inflection Point: The Australian Defence Force after Afghanistan, March 2012
Professor Alan Dupont

In this Policy Brief, Professor Alan Dupont argues that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is at an inflection point and requires re-evaluation of its goals, strategy, structure, and resources as it transitions from the Afghanistan conflict. Dupont warns against repeating the mistakes of the post-Vietnam era when Australia was left with a poorly equipped defence force. He argues for a vigorous public debate about the priorities of the ADF as Australia begins to formulate a new Defence White Paper. Dupont concludes that 'Australia’s responsibilities and interests in the Melanesian world suggest that boots on the ground are likely to remain an enduring feature of ADF deployments. The next White Paper should include a clearly articulated defence strategy and give greater emphasis to working more closely with our Asian neighbours.'

Antarctica: Assessing and Protecting Australia's National Interests, August 2011
Ellie Fogarty

In this Policy Brief from the Lowy Institute’s inaugural National Security Fellow, Ellie Fogarty identifies long-term threats to Australia’s dormant claim to 42 per cent of Antarctica. These include growing interest in the continent’s resource potential from such major powers as China and Russia. The paper recommends policy changes and capability investments to protect Australia’s interests.

Enduring Ties and Enduring Interests? Australia's Post-Afghanistan Strategic Choices in the Gulf, August 2011
Dr Rodger Shanahan

In a new Policy Brief, Lowy Institute Non-resident Fellow Rodger Shanahan examines Australia's security relationship with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Largely as a consequence of military deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, Australia has developed strong defence ties with key GCC countries, in particular the UAE. But with these deployments coming to an end, the future of these ties is now in question. In this Policy Brief, Shanahan argues that Australia's growing strategic interests in the Gulf would justify keeping a small military presence in the UAE, even after Australia's last troops have left Afghanistan.

Turning the Tide: Improving Access to Climate Financing in the Pacific Islands, July 2011
Nic Maclellan

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commits developed countries to provide climate financing to developing nations, to address climate impacts on food security, water supply, agriculture and public health. But despite recent commitments of 'fast start' climate funding from donors, Pacific Island governments face significant obstacles in accessing resources to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

This new Policy Brief by journalist and researcher Nic Maclellan outlines innovative approaches that could strengthen Pacific access to climate finance and improve outcomes for vulnerable communities in our region. It discusses how climate finance can be used effectively, as Australia faces the challenge of meeting its fair share of the global funding pledge of US$100 billion a year by 2020.

Living with the Dragon: Why Australia Needs a China Strategy, June 2011
Professor Alan Dupont

In a new Policy Brief, Lowy Institute Non-resident Senior Fellow Professor Alan Dupont argues that Australia has failed to grasp the full implications of China’s meteoric rise or the risk of conflict in the Western Pacific. He calls for a coherent, national approach to China, one that is informed by a clear appreciation of the drivers of Chinese strategic policy particularly in the Western Pacific, which is the most likely arena of confrontation between China and the US. Kowtowing or muscling up to China are equally flawed strategies, Dr Dupont writes. Smart power and astute diplomacy are better ways of hedging against the prospect of a new hegemony in Asia.

Policy Overboard: Australia's Increasingly Costly Fiji Drift, May 2011
Jenny Hayward-Jones

Australia’s tough-love policy towards Fiji has failed to convince the government of Voreqe Bainimarama to restore democracy. The Fiji government has instead developed new partnerships which undermine Australia’s influence. Australia’s reputation for regional leadership and as a creative middle power on the world stage is at risk of being diminished by the Fiji government’s resistance to pressure.

In this Policy Brief, Jenny Hayward-Jones argues that Australia should redefine its relationship with Fiji to focus more sharply on Australia’s long-term interests. The Australian government should build a new coalition with some non-traditional partners such as Indonesia, India and Malaysia which works with Fiji to develop a package of assistance for electoral and constitutional reform, consistent with Fiji’s 2014 election timetable. Australia should also offer a range of confidence-building measures that will help it stake a role in Fiji’s transition to democracy.

China in the Pacific: The New Banker in Town, April 2011
Mary Fifita and Fergus Hanson

This is the fourth in a series of Lowy Institute reports on China’s aid program in the Pacific. They now cover the five-year period 2005-2009, offering the most detailed picture available of China’s activities in the region. China has been increasing the loan to grant ratio of its aid and has now pledged over $US600 million to Pacific states. In Tonga, pledged loans from China equate to one third of its GDP.

Revitalising Papua New Guinea's Health System: The Need for Creative Approaches, November 2010
Dr Katherine Lepani Julienne McKay

There is significant potential for the PNG government to deliver better health services for all Papuan New Guineans. Major health problems are now preventable. Cost-effective options are available to Papua New Guineans to treat malaria, pneumonia, tuberculosis and HIV as well as to reduce infant and maternal mortality.

In this Policy Brief Julienne McKay and Dr Katherine Lepani explore how demand-responsive mechanisms (vouchers, micro-health insurance, social franchises and social businesses) can be a compelling addition to strengthening health systems in PNG. The research looks at the potential use of these instruments with a focus on HIV, maternal health, tuberculosis and malaria, and contains policy recommendations for government, the private sector and donors.

Dropping the Autopilot: Improving Australia's Defence Diplomacy, November 2010
Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Floyd

Australia’s military forces have often acted as effective agents of international policy. But while defence diplomacy has complemented Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade efforts, this has often been due to ad hoc coordination and personal initiative. Despite recent improvements, Australia cannot risk allowing any of its military diplomacy to be on autopilot, especially given how strained its diplomatic resources are across the board. In this policy brief, Chief of Army Fellow Nick Floyd argues there is a need to understand what defence diplomacy can offer Australia’s international policy activities, and to provide clearer strategic guidance to align Department of Defence and wider diplomatic planning.

A Digital DFAT: Joining the 21st Century, November 2010
Fergus Hanson

E-diplomacy is no longer a boutique extra. Serious foreign ministries are embracing e-diplomacy to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. New digital tools offer far better means of communicating both internally and externally. They also allow governments to reach audiences – like important areas of the blogosphere – they would otherwise be cut off from.

Australia’s own Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a lot of catching up to do. It also has a lot to gain from adopting these new platforms.

This policy brief looks at the latest e-diplomacy innovations being pioneered by the US, UK and Canadian foreign ministries, drawing on meetings with the e-diplomacy units from all three countries.

Confronting the Crisis of International Climate Policy: Rethinking the Framework for Cutting Emissions, July 2010
Fergus Green, Professor Warwick McKibbin, Dr Greg Picker

Copenhagen failed to produce an agreement on climate change commensurate with the scale of the problem, highlighting the fundamental weaknesses in the existing UN framework. Progress on a new agreement is agonisingly slow. Weightier commitments by the major emitters are necessary, but calls for ‘greater ambition’ ignore the structural problems embedded in the institutions, processes and policy models of the UN climate regime.

This study proposes an international framework based on carbon prices rather than emissions targets. Under a price-based international framework, countries would undertake to implement specified actions and policies. Those policies should then be converted into an internationally standardised form of economy wide ‘carbon price equivalent’, with each country pledging/negotiating to implement a starting carbon price equivalent policy along with a schedule of real annual price increases.

Indonesia and Australia: Time For A Step Change, March 2010
Fergus Hanson

The relationship with Indonesia is one of Australia’s most important but it is still not on a firm footing. Government-to-government ties have been strengthening but relations are focused around a mostly negative set of security-related issues. Business-to-business links are underdone and public perceptions are in a poor state. Even incremental improvements will be hard to make without dramatic leadership gestures to provide a much needed jolt to the relationship. In this Policy Brief, Fergus Hanson offers four suggestions for lifting the relationship up a notch.

Capital flows, the carry trade and 'sand in the wheels', February 2010
Dr Stephen Grenville AO

The 'carry trade', in which capital shifts from countries with low interest rates to countries with significantly higher rates, has become an important element of international capital flows over the past decade. In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Dr Stephen Grenville looks at the challenges raised by these capital flows for economic policy.

The Global Financial Crisis will leave a legacy of substantial interest differentials between the slow-growing crisis countries and the emerging markets. This is likely to attract big short-term volatile capital flows which will push up exchange rates and leave these countries vulnerable to sudden outflows. Dr Grenville proposes that these countries should explore ways of discouraging these short-term inflows, and in doing this should have the backing of the IMF.

Obama's Surge: The United States, Australia and the Second War for Afghanistan, December 2009
Anthony Bubalo

In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, West Asia Program Director Anthony Bubalo considers the implications of President Obama’s decision to send additional US troops to Afghanistan. 'Obama’s surge: The United States, Australia and the second war for Afghanistan' discusses how shifts in US troops numbers and strategy, combined with the planned withdrawal of Dutch forces from Oruzgan, where the bulk of the Australian military force operates, raise a number of issues for Australian policy. It recommends an independent review of the factors that have contributed to improvements in Oruzgan’s security to date, greater flexibility in the way Australia deploys its military trainers and more effort to improve the effectivess of its civilian and diplomatic contributions to the war.

Problems to Partnership: A Plan for Australia-India Strategic Ties, November 2009
Rory Medcalf

In this Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Rory Medcalf, Program Director International Security, argues that Australia and India must not squander the chance to build a strategic partnership. Recent bilateral difficulties, such as over student welfare, have at least focused high-level attention on the relationship. A security declaration would be a positive step, but would need to be more than rhetoric, and include practical ideas for defence, intelligence and diplomatic cooperation to meet common challenges. Meanwhile the uranium export question has not gone away.

Caught in the Crossfire: The Pashtun Tribes of Southeast Afghanistan, October 2009
Tom Gregg

In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Tom Gregg argues the importance of a more effective engagement of Afghanistan’s tribes, particularly in the country’s south east. This could help improve stability in a strategically important part of the country and avoid a situation where local tribes were turned against the Afghan national government and international military forces operating in the region. 'Caught in the crossfire: the Pashtun tribes of southeast Afghanistan' recommends international assistance for efforts to reform the Afghan Ministry of Tribal and Border Affairs, the creation of a mechanism to deal with tribal grievances towards international military operations and the establishment of a Tribal Outreach Commission to build knowledge for, prioritise and manage tribal engagement at the local level.

A G-20 Caucus for East Asia, October 2009
Dr Stephen Grenville AO Mark Thirlwell

In September 2009, the Pittsburgh Summit designated the G-20 as the world’s premier forum for international cooperation. The G-20 gives East Asia a significant presence at the top table of the world economy: six regional economies, including Australia, are members. This creates important new opportunities for the region. But making use of these opportunities requires significant increases in policy-making resources and in many Asian economies such resources are in short supply relative to the pressing problems they currently face. In a new Policy Brief, Stephen Grenville and Mark Thirlwell suggest that a caucus of the six East Asian members of the G-20 would provide an opportunity to pool resources for research and the preparation of policy papers on matters of common interest. This could help the region promote an agenda at the G-20 which would not only support regional interests, but would also assist in establishing the G-20’s relevance and keeping leaders engaged.

Rebuilding Zimbabwe: Australia's Role in Supporting the Transition, October 2009
Jolyon Ford Joel Negin

Last month marked the first anniversary of the 2008 power-sharing accord that resulted in the creation of a new unity government in Zimbabwe. In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Joel Negin and Jolyon Ford assess what Australia can do to assist the country’s re-emergence.

In March 2009, Australia became the first major donor country to provide assistance to the new power-sharing government. Given the pervading influence of hardline elements in the new government, however, many still worry about the risks involved in providing external support. Negin and Ford argue that external assistance can help sustain momentum for reform in Zimbabwe and sustain public belief in a post-Mugabe era. They propose several areas where Australian aid can provide support to the country’s fragile recovery process, including through a focus on agriculture and food security.

Unconventional Partners: Australia-India Cooperation in Reducing Nuclear Dangers, October 2009
Amandeep Gill Rory Medcalf

In this Policy Brief, International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf and his Indian co-author Amandeep Gill argue that an innovative partnership between Australia and India would help erode the entrenched blocs that impede progress on nuclear disarmament. Their recommendations include: a leaders’ statement; a specialised bilateral dialogue; and practical cooperation on non-proliferation export controls, with Australia promoting Indian involvement in the so-called Australia Group to raise comfort levels between New Delhi and other such arrangements. This publication was produced under the Lowy Institute’s partnership with the Nuclear Security project (www.nuclearsecurityproject.org).

External Imbalances and the G20, September 2009
Dr Stephen Grenville AO

In a new Policy Brief, Stephen Grenville argues that the Global Financial Crisis has changed the form of the external imbalances problem, but not removed it. Rather than see this as a bilateral issue, juxtaposing America’s unsustainable external deficit with China’s unsustainable surplus, the policy agenda should be broadened, to encompass ways of promoting globalisation rather than retreating from it. Next week’s G20 leaders’ meeting provides the forum for a more multilateral approach to policy coordination.

Message to the G20: Defeating Protectionism Begins at Home, September 2009
Mark Thirlwell

On 16 November last year, G20 leaders made a commitment to resist protectionism. According to the World Bank, by the end of February 2009, seventeen of the twenty had already ‘implemented 47 measures whose effect is to restrict trade.’ When the leaders meet in Pittsburgh on 24 September 2009, they will have an opportunity to review their commitment and decide how best to strengthen it.

In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Bill Carmichael, Saul Eslake and Mark Thirlwell argue that the advice that G20 leaders have received to date fails to deal with the underlying causes of protectionism. Protectionism results from decisions taken by governments at home, for domestic reasons. As a consequence, any effective response to protectionism needs to begin at home. The authors therefore propose that G20 leaders should sponsor domestic transparency arrangements in individual countries, in order to provide public advice about the economy-wide costs of domestic protection.

Australia's Poisoned Alumni: International Education and the Costs to Australia, August 2009
Dr Michael Wesley

Australia's poisoned alumni: international education and the costs to Australia
In this new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Executive Director Michael Wesley analyses the multi-faceted international student debate. It canvasses the dynamics of the international student industry and the social, economic and criminal issues faced by international students during their time in Australia. Wesley scutinises the wide-ranging implications of the problem and considers that if left unaddressed, it is likely to worsen. The paper, with its considered and instructive policy recommendations, represents an independent and relevant contribution to the debate with Wesley forewarning the potential creation of a poisoned alumni.

A Tighter Net: Strengthening the Proliferation Security Initiative, August 2009
Emma Belcher

In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, entitled 'A Tighter Net: Strengthening the Proliferation Security Initiative', non-proliferation scholar Emma Belcher urges practical steps for WMD non-proliferation at sea.

Australia and other countries should redouble their efforts to fix serious gaps in an international arrangement to stop maritime shipments of materials destined for weapons of mass destruction programs, according to the Brief. It argues that heightened concerns over North Korea provide an opportunity to bolster the Proliferation Security Initiative, a 95-country arrangement to promote interception of transfers of cargoes related to weapons of mass destruction.

China: Stumbling Through the Pacific, July 2009
Fergus Hanson

A new Policy Brief on China's aid program in the Pacific provides the most detailed picture yet of China's approach to aid-giving in the region. It suggests China is mired in a vicious cycle of short-termism that is a legacy of its long-running diplomatic battle with Taiwan. Its aid-giving is unpredictable, secretive and takes no account of recurring costs or debt burdening. The recent diplomatic truce between China and Taiwan offers China a chance to refocus its program towards longer-term development goals that also better serve Chinese national interests.

Mass Poverty in Asia: The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis, June 2009
Dr Peter McCawley

In addition to the current Global Financial Crisis (GFC), there is a second global crisis: long-term poverty in the third world. While the rich world worries about a repeat of the Great Depression, today more than a billion people in Asia live in conditions of bitter poverty which are much worse than those of the 1930s. As a result of the GFC, poverty in developing Asia is now likely to increase. In a new Policy Brief, Peter McCawley argues that Australian economic diplomacy should place greater focus on the issue of mass poverty in Asia, and he emphasises the importance of strong economic growth as the best way to help Asia's poor.

Fiji: The Flailing State, April 2009
Jenny Hayward-Jones

The abrogation of Fiji's constitution could precipitate an economic collapse in Fiji, jeopardising regional stability and Australia's interests. In this new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Jenny Hayward-Jones, Program Director, The Myer Foundation Melanesia Program, argues that Australia needs to work urgently with the international financial institutions and regional governments to shore up regional economies while tightening political pressure on Fiji's military government.

In this video interview with Fergus Hanson, Jenny Hayward-Jones explains the recent political crisis in Fiji and outlines the reasoning behind the recommendation in her Policy Brief that Fiji needs urgent financial assistance to prevent economic meltdown.

Video Interview.

Refining the G-20 Agenda, March 2009
Dr Stephen Grenville AO

The G-20 Leaders will meet in London in April, faced by the most serious economic downturn for seventy years. The London agenda bears two heavy burdens. First, financial markets are expecting a confidence-boosting rabbit to be pulled out of the international policy hat, and no such magic trick exists. Second, the agenda has become the repository of all the ideas to make the world a better place, ranging from poverty alleviation to climate control. In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Visiting Fellow Stephen Grenville makes some suggestions for the meeting's agenda.

Confronting Reality: Responding to War Criminals Living in Australia, February 2009
Fergus Hanson

In this Policy Brief, Fergus Hanson looks at the Australian government's current approach to suspected war criminals living here. It finds Australia has inadvertently become a safe haven for suspected war criminals and needs to do more to meet its international obligations to end impunity for the world's worst criminal offenders. It suggests a number of modest reforms the Rudd government could implement to meet its election commitment that suspected war criminals be brought to justice.

Shared Challenges and Solutions: Australia's Unique Contribution to the Future of African Development, December 2008
Glenn Denning, Joel Negin

As part of its commitment to increase spending on overseas development assistance, the Australian government has announced a substantial re-engagement with Africa. Despite the anticipated increase in funding, however, Australia will still be a small player in Africa's crowded development community. In a new Policy Brief, Joel Negin and Glenn Denning propose that, in order to ensure its engagement with Africa is as meaningful as possible, Australia should leverage areas of shared challenges between Australia and Africa where Australia's experience and expertise enable it to make strategic and mutually beneficial contributions. To this end, Negin and Denning argue that Australia should focus its African development program on sustainable agriculture and renewable energy.

Engaging Pakistan, December 2008
Claude Rakisits

The Mumbai terror attacks have once again focused attention on Pakistan's position as both a critical ally in the war on terror and a country in which a number of key terrorist groups have found safe haven. The international community faces a difficult dilemma in balancing demands that Pakistan do more to root out terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba, while protecting that country's fragile return to civilian rule. In this new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Claude Rakisits proposes a modest contribution that Australia might make toward building a more durable and productive relationship with Pakistan by broadening its engagement with key elements of Pakistani society beyond the military and intelligence elites that have traditionally been the focus of the West's ties with this strategically vital country.

Claude Rakisits is a Geneva-based Australian who heads an independent consultancy, Geopolitical Assessments.

The Sting of Climate Change: Malaria and Dengue Fever in Maritime Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, November 2008
Dr Sarah Potter

Climate change is not only affecting where people live and prosper but also where mosquitoes do. This is bad news for northern Australia and Australia's northern neighbours. In a new policy brief, Dr Sarah Potter, a malaria research scientist, analyses how climate change will likely affect the spread of malaria and dengue in maritime Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands and how Australia itself is at greater risk of outbreaks of these diseases.

Beyond Good Governance: Shifting the Paradigm for Australian Aid to the Pacific Islands Region, September 2008
Jenny Hayward-Jones

Australian aid has not been effective in helping the Pacific Islands region make significant progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. The focus of aid on improving public sector capacity and governance has not stimulated sufficient private sector participation to meet the development aspirations of Pacific Island populations.

In this Lowy Institute Policy Brief, The Myer Foundation Melanesia Program Director Jenny Hayward-Jones argues that Australian aid should be used to leverage growing corporate interest in reducing global poverty into investment in the Pacific - to create real income-earning opportunities for a burgeoning youth population and underscore a solid base for improved service delivery.

Nuclear Security: What Else Can Australia Do? September 2008
Rory Medcalf

Nuclear dangers are growing, yet so is a new 'realistic idealist' campaign for nuclear disarmament. In this Lowy Institute Policy Brief, International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf suggests ways Australia might contribute to nuclear security in Asia and globally, in addition to the new international Commission that Canberra is co-sponsoring with Tokyo. These include rebuilding Australia's diplomatic capacity in arms control, urging the new US Administration to reduce American reliance on nuclear weapons, and starting a leaders' dialogue in Asia. A separate Lowy Institute Analysis provides background and further detail.

So What? Matching Policy to Australian Interests in West Asia, July 2008
Anthony Bubalo

In a new Lowy institute Policy Brief, West Asia Program Director Anthony Bubalo argues that the evolution of Australian policy in West Asia (the Middle East and Southwest Asia) has lagged behind the maturation of Australian interests in this part of the world. 'So what? Matching policy to Australian interests in West Asia' discusses new elements to a reinvigorated policy framework, including an enhanced dialogue with key regional leaders, a strategic partnership with one or two key countries, the strengthening of non-military cooperation, the leveraging of the growing regional economic role of the Gulf to promote Australian trade, the greater use of multilateral and second-track diplomacy on issues such as energy security and Afghanistan, a greater on-the-ground development presence and an expanded national capacity to analyse and assess regional developments.

The Dragon In The Pacific: More Opportunity Than Threat, June 2008
Fergus Hanson

China runs an opaque aid program in the Pacific that has fuelled suspicions about its motives in the region and that undermines efforts to improve accountability, governance and stability. Despite concerns about China’s aid program, China and Australia share broadly similar interests in the region and Australia and other donors would gain from working with China to improve the quality of its aid and reduce its destabilising side effects. In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Fergus Hanson suggests several new approaches to engaging China on its aid program.

Why the Gulf matters: crafting an Australian security policy for the Arabian Gulf, May 2008
Colonel Rodger Shanahan

The imminent withdrawal of Australian combat forces from Iraq does not mean that the Arabian Gulf is peripheral to Australia's strategic interests. Australian forces have been deployed there regularly over the past 20 years, and Australia's and its main trading partners' energy requirements will increasingly be met from that region. In this new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Chief of Army Visiting Fellow Rodger Shanahan argues that Australia has permanent interests in the region and advocates the establishment of a strategic partnership with the United Arab Emirates.

Looking After Australians Overseas, October 2007
Professor Hugh White

More Australians are now travelling overseas than ever before, and more and more are finding themselves in trouble abroad as a result. The Federal Government has put a strong emphasis on helping those Australians whose travel plans go wrong for various reasons, but recently there have been signs that this may have gone too far. Today helping Australians in trouble abroad is perhaps the single most demanding and time-consuming responsibility of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Budgets are tight, and resources once devoted to wider national interests are now spent helping individuals who find themselves in trouble. This is starting to have implications for Australia's wider foreign policy.

In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Visiting Fellow Hugh White asks if it is time to start drawing some lines.

Stopping a Nuclear Arms Race Between America and China, August 2007
Professor Hugh White

China and America may be at the start of a destabilising nuclear arms race, as China tries to preserve its ability to deter US nuclear attack in the light of US missile defences and nuclear system upgrades. That would undermine hopes that the US and China can build a stable cooperative relationship as China's power grows. So Australia has a big interest in trying to help head off the risk of an arms race. In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Hugh White suggests that there is something simple we could try.

Design Faults: The Asia Pacific's Regional Architecture, July 2007
Allan Gyngell

In a new Policy Brief, Lowy Institute Executive Director Allan Gyngell argues that the Asia Pacific region has too many regional organisations, yet they are still unable to do all the things required of them. This matters at a time when the rising power of China and India presents new challenges. He suggests a new framework for regional institutions, including the establishment of a more effective security organisation and a heads of government meeting separate from APEC.

Uranium for India: Avoiding the Pitfalls, May 2007
Ron Walker

In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Ron Walker, a former Australian Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, warns that selling uranium to India without the same legal obligations and non-proliferation standards that apply to our other customers could undermine our broader foreign policy interests and weaken the national consensus to continue uranium mining and exports.

The Brief argues that instead of making an exception for India, Australia should work to strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation system and engage India in that process. The result could be a more effective non-proliferation regime and one that includes India and, potentially, one day, the other two NPT holdouts.

Ron Walker is a Visiting Fellow at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University. He was Chairman of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1993-1994.

A Long Hot Summer: Crisis and Opportunity in Afghanistan, March 2007
Professor William Maley Daoud Yaqub

In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, William Maley and Daoud Yaqub explore the implications of the looming Taliban Spring offensive on the international reconstruction and security effort in Afghanistan. Maley and Yaqub argue that a more aggressive posture by Coalition forces toward the Taliban and more concerted international pressure on Pakistan is needed to ensure that Afghanistan does not once again become a safe haven for international terrorist organisations.

HIV/AIDS: The Looming Asia Pacific Pandemic, March 2007
Bill Bowtell

In a new Policy Brief on HIV/AIDS in the Asia Pacific, Bill Bowtell calls for both a doubling of global funding for the response to the HIV pandemic, and a radical overhaul of strategies that have not brought the global pandemic under control. He proposes that the international community must commit itself to the eradication of HIV/AIDS by the end of the 21st century. Australia is well placed to increase its already significant contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the region, and especially in the south Pacific and Melanesia.

Reinventing 'West Asia': How the 'Middle East' and 'South Asia' fit into Australia's strategic picture, February 2007
Anthony Bubalo

In conjunction with the launch of the Lowy Institute's West Asia program, Anthony Bubalo, Director of the new program, argues why the Middle East and South Asia increasingly comprise one strategically coherent region, 'West Asia', and explores the policy significance of this for Australia.

China and Taiwan in the South Pacific: Diplomatic Chess Versus Pacific Political Rugby, January 2007
Graeme Dobell

In the latest Lowy Institute Policy Brief, entitled China and Taiwan in the South Pacific: diplomatic chess versus Pacific political rugby, Graeme Dobell looks at how the competition for diplomatic recognition between China and Taiwan is destabilising Island states and undermining Australia's interests in the region. Graeme Dobell is one of the ABC's most experienced reporters of Asia Pacific affairs. He is now the Foreign Affairs & Defence Correspondent for Radio Australia.

New Rules for a New 'Great Game': Northeast Asian Energy Insecurity and the G-20, November 2006
Anthony Bubalo, Mark Thirlwell

Energy insecurity, driven by high demand and uncertainty over supply, is fuelling a surging interest in equity in Middle East oil fields among major energy consumers, particularly in Northeast Asia. There is a risk that the resultant competition for oil and other energy resources in the Middle East will aggravate existing tensions or even create new conflicts. In a new Policy Brief, Anthony Bubalo and Mark Thirlwell argue that the G-20, meeting in Melbourne this weekend, should take a leading role in ensuring that energy insecurity does not become a global strategic problem.

Capital Punishment and Australian Foreign Policy, August 2006
Dr Michael Fullilove

In this new Policy Brief, Dr Michael Fullilove examines how the Australian Government implements its stated opposition to the death penalty. He finds that while Australia is an effective advocate for Australian nationals on death row, we do less than we could in relation to universal abolition. Dr Fullilove argues Canberra should accelerate its efforts on comprehensive abolition, in two ways.

First, our political leaders should bring some consistency to their rhetoric on the death penalty. It is difficult to discern such consistency at the moment, which makes us look hypocritical when we ask for our own people to be spared.

Second, Australia should initiate a regional coalition against the death penalty, building on the momentum created by its abolition in five Asian countries in the past decade. Megaphone diplomacy need not be employed. Instead, the regional coalition should look for creative ways to nudge regional countries toward abolition.

Football Diplomacy, Republished in June 2006
Anthony Bubalo

Australia's loss to Italy ended a remarkable run in the World Cup, but Australian football's global adventure is far from over. In coming months the broader significance of Australia's membership of the Asian Football Confederation will become apparent as the Socceroos seek a place in next year's Asian Cup Finals. And with Australia's footballing currency greatly enhanced by the perfomances in Germany, the opportunities for Australian business and government to leverage this new sporting relationship with Asia have only improved - opportunities explored in the Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Football Diplomacy: Engaging Asia through Sport.

Geeing up the G-20, April 2006
Dr Malcolm Cook Mark Thirlwell

On 18-19 November this year, Melbourne will host one of the most important international policy meetings ever held in Australia, the annual G-20 Summit of finance ministers and central bank governors. The G-20 is increasingly well placed to replace the G7 as an effective steering committee for the world economy, and is a key player in discussions to reform the IMF and World Bank.

In a new Policy Brief entitled Geeing up the G-20, Mark Thirlwell and Malcolm Cook explain the potential of the G-20 and its international policy benefits for Australia.

Football Diplomacy, November 2005
Anthony Bubalo

While Australian governments have successfully built pragmatic ties with Asian leaders, a popular dimension to our engagement with Asia has in many respects been missing. This didn't matter greatly in the past, but today public opinion is increasingly a factor in foreign policy. A new opportunity to deepen people-to-people links with Asia has arrived in the form of Australia's recent admission into the Asian Football Confederation.

Drawing on ideas that emerged from the Lowy Institute's Football Diplomacy seminar last October, this Policy Brief examines how Australia can best use this new sporting relationship with Asia to enhance its regional image and engagement.

How to Save APEC, October 2005
Dr Malcolm Cook Allan Gyngell

In 2007, Sydney will host the most important and expensive diplomatic meeting ever held in Australia, the APEC leaders' meeting. In How to Save APEC, the first of a new series of Lowy Institute Policy Briefs, Allan Gyngell and Malcolm Cook analyse APEC's problems and the competitive threats it faces.

The brief offers recommendations for necessary and achievable reforms that can help ensure that APEC does not sink into costly irrelevance. Allan Gyngell is the Institute's Executive Director and Malcolm Cook is the Program Director for Asia and the Pacific.



Source: Lowy Institute