Completed Collaborative Research Projects

Research at the East-West Center in Washington (EWCW) seeks to promote analysis, understanding, and explanation of the dynamics of key contemporary domestic, transnational, and international political and security issues, problems, and challenges in the Asia Pacific with a view to managing and reducing tension and conflict, and promoting peaceful change. Research at EWCW is collaborative in nature and involves participants from throughout the Asia Pacific region including the United States.

Nuclear Weapons and Security in 21st Century Asia

This six-year, three-phase proposed project (2005-2010), sought to initiate a comprehensive and systematic study of the nuclear situation in Asia through research, publications, and training. Specifically, it investigates: nuclear weapons and delivery systems in the national security policies of key states in the Asian security complex; the resulting nuclear dynamics and their implications for regional security; developing the intellectual foundations for ideas, concepts, theories, and strategies relevant to the present nuclear age to foster conceptual and theoretical scholarly work and to enable more effective policy debates on ways to address real problems (rather than indulge in ethnocentric preconceptions and hidden agendas) linked to the acquisition, deployment, and control of nuclear weapons; and "new" ideas and institutions to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons, especially to "undeterrable" non-state actors.

This project was be organized in three overlapping phases: Phase one from 2005 through 2008; phase two from 2006 through 2009; and phase three from 2007 through 2010. Research in phase one focused on two sets of issues: a comparative study of the national perspective on the utility and role of nuclear weapons, and the resulting nuclear dynamics and their implications for security. In phase two, research focused on the intellectual foundations of ideas, concepts, theories, and strategies relevant to the contemporary nuclear age. The final phase of this project focused on managing the proliferation problems among states in all its dimensions and stopping nuclear leakage to non-state actors.

Power Shifts and Preventive War

This project investigated why shifts in the balance of economic power lead to war in some cases but not in others. Its practical purpose was to develop a theory that helps understand security implications of China’s expanding wealth.The central argument is that declining states’ military strategy is the key determinant of peace and war in the presence of power shifts. The possession of a maneuver strategy increases the prospect of war by enhancing decliners’ confidence in their military capability, accentuating their fear of losing a military opportunity, and reducing their susceptibility to compensation. If declining states only have an attrition strategy available to them, on the other hand, war is less likely since the states have little confidence in their chance of victory and are more likely to be accommodating during a crisis. In order to test this theory against its alternatives, the project takes the case universe of power shifts among major states over the past two centuries, and establishes correlations between the indicators of each theory and the incidence of war and peace. Also, comparative historical analyses are conducted on three crucial cases including the outbreak of the Second World War in the Pacific.

Management of Internal Conflicts in Asia


Funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, this multiyear project (2002-2008) investigated the domestic, transnational, and international dynamics of internal conflicts in the Asia Pacific and explores strategies and solutions for the peaceful management and eventual settlement of these conflicts. Issues investigated included sovereignty, autonomy, economic development, migration, security operations, and secessionist movements. 


The first phase (2002-2004) investigated internal conflicts arising from the political consciousness of minority communities in response to the nation and state building projects of the national elite in China, Indonesia, and the Philippines.  


The second phase of this project (2005-2008) investigated the nature, consequences, and management of conflicts in Sri Lanka, Burma, southern Thailand, Nepal, and northeastern India. Study Group members were drawn from the academic and policy communities in the U.S. and the relevant Asian countries including minority communities.


Civil Society and Political Change in Asia


This multiyear project (2001-2004) investigated the nature of civil society and the role of associations operating in this space in fostering and consolidating political change (which includes but is not limited to democratic change) in thirteen Asian countries. The book resulting from this project was published in 2004. Funded by the Center for Global Partnership of The Japan Foundation, participants in this comparative study were drawn from Asia, the United States, Australia, and Europe.


Asian Security Order


This third phase (1999-2003) of a multiyear project (1995-2003) on Asian security investigated the existence and nature of order in the management of Asian security affairs. Funded by the US-Japan Foundation, this project has been completed. A book entitled Asian Security Order: Instrumental and Normative Features, published by the Stanford University Press, appeared in 2003. Two policy papers were also commissioned. Participants in this project were drawn from throughout the Asia Pacific.