Arms, disarmament, and arms control in Asia

Panel organised by: Jens Heinrich (Universität Rostock)

Panel description

In 2014, the Deutsche Welle broadcast reported on Asia’s arms race. Studies by various peace research institutes and think tanks show that even four years later little has changed in these findings. Asian countries are among the major importers of military hardware. On the other hand, China ranks as the fourth largest exporter of weapons.

In addition to the conventional arms race – especially in the maritime realm – Asia is also the continent with four (China, India, North Korea, Pakistan) respectively six (US, Russia) nuclear powers whose relations are characterized by conflicts, competition, military disputes and (in the past) wars.

All Asian nuclear powers invest in new delivery systems and warheads. At the same time, some countries such as Pakistan and India introduced destabilizing nuclear doctrines. The qualitative and quantitative arms dynamics are being further complicated by political tensions, the struggle for regional hegemony, and territorial disputes. Asia could be the next nuclear flashpoint.

In times of need Asia lacks substantial arms control regimes and institutions that could help to manage the regional dynamics in the nuclear and conventional field. There are some confi-dence-building measures and forums such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), but these instruments do little or nothing to curb arms races and military buildup. It seems that the insti-tutionalized, highly formalized, and legally binding arms control approach is not working in Asia.

This panel invites scholars to submit papers with an empirical or theoretical focus on arms races and arms control in Asia. Central aspects that this panel wants to address are the causes and consequences of arms races, and the conditions for arms control, non-proliferation, and dis-armament. Potential research questions are:

  • What are the internal and external factors that trigger, favor and/or could reverse arms build-up?
  • Why has Southeast Asia remained nuclear weapons-free compared to other regions of Asia?
  • What is the position of Asian countries on regional and global (nuclear) disarmament (and why?)?
  • What is the track record of past and recent arms control initiatives?
  • Why is formal and treaty-based arms control difficult to implement in the region?
  • What are potential alternatives for arms control and disarmament in Asia?
  • What lessons, if any, can be learned from Europe (keywords OSCE, CFE or INF)?
  • What role do epistemic communities and track 2 approaches play in the arms control process?

Paper proposal

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