The 7th North Pacific Arctic Conference, held at the East-West Center in August 2017, brought together researchers, policymakers, government officials, business leaders, and indigenous people to discuss alternatives for sustainable development in the Arctic.

The East-West Center Research Program works with research and policy communities in the US and the Asia Pacific to provide more complete knowledge and deeper understanding of environments, societies, economies, governments, and international relations in the region. Research is conducted in close collaboration with networks of individuals and institutions throughout Asia and the Pacific and is shared broadly with planners, policymakers, regional specialists, the media, and the general public.

East-West Center Launches Study of Rice Farming in Mainland Southeast Asia

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently awarded the East-West Center a three-year grant to study "The agrarian transition in mainland Southeast Asia: Changes in rice farming, 1995–2018". The area under rice production has not expanded in the region since the mid-1990s, farms are smaller, there are fewer agricultural laborers, and the average age of farmers has increased to about 50 year old. Nevertheless, rice production per hectare has more than doubled.

Looking at rice-producing regions in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam, this project examines one of the most interesting questions related to agriculture in the region—how did fewer, older farmers with smaller farms achieve such a large increase in total rice production? Jefferson Fox and Sumeet Saksena at the East-West Center will collaborate with colleagues at Chiang Mai University and Ubon Ratchathani University in Thailand, the National University of Singapore, the Royal University of Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and Savannakhet University in Lao PDR. Other colleagues in the project come from universities and research centers in the United States and Europe.

More Recent Activities

The East-West Wire, a long-standing media service provided by the East-West Center, has recently increased coverage of findings and commentary from East-West Center researchers. Articles are available at Research on the Wire. Recent issues discuss the benefits of US humanitarian aid and rights advocacy in North Korea, the impact on workers of China's industrial modernization plan, the impact on government budgets of population aging in the US and Japan, policies to improve women's economic equality, and new priorities and challenges for America's Pacific Military Command.




Jefferson Fox is the new Director of the East-West Center Research Program. He has been a Senior Fellow at the Center since 1985, conducting research on land-use and land-cover change in Asia. Nancy Davis Lewis is retiring after serving 16 years as the Center’s Research Program Director. She will continue as an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center, focusing on global environmental change, health, gender, and climate-change adaptation and risk reduction.


The East-West Center’s Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) program helps communities in Hawai'i and the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands anticipate and adapt to a changing climate. Recent activities in Hawai'i include an assessment of the effects of future climate change on freshwater resources on Maui and Oahu. In the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Pacific RISA is evaluating the impact of climate change on human migration. The Pacific RISA program is also leading the development of the Pacific Islands chapter of the fourth US National Climate Assessment.


The Asian International Justice Initiative (AIJI), a collaboration between the East-West Center and the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University, conducts collaborative projects on international justice, judicial reform, the rule of law, and human rights, including legal procedures for gender-based crimes. Current programs focus on Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, and the Southeast Asian region.

More on the East-West Center Research Program…

Selected Publications by East-West Center Authors

Sharing the demographic dividend: Findings from low-and middle-income countries in Asia. 2017. NTA Bulletin No. 12. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Recent work by National Transfer Accounts (NTA) teams in Asia sheds light on how both the contributions and benefits associated with population change are shared-—among age groups, between genders, among income groups, and between urban and rural residents. Better insights into these distributional issues can potentially help policymakers maximize the potential of demographic change to stimulate economic growth and reduce the disparities among population groups.

Misunderstanding North Korea, by Denny Roy. 2017. AsiaPacific Issues No. 133. Honolulu: East-West Center.

It is important to dispense with four common misunderstandings about North Korea. First, characterizations of the regime as irrational are wrong. Second, Pyongyang is extremely unlikely to exchange its nuclear weapons for greater trade opportunities with democratic countries. Third, the option of using military action to stop North Korea's missile program is not "on the table." Finally, depending on China to solve the problem is fruitless because the Chinese fear a collapse of the regime more than they fear a nuclear-armed North Korea.

From poor peasants to entrepreneurial farmers: the transformation of rural life in Northeast Thailand, by A. Terry Rambo. 2017. AsiaPacific Issues No. 132. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Over the past 30 years, a transformation has occurred in the lives of the Isan people of Northeast Thailand. Agricultural advances allowed a shift from subsistence to entrepreneurial farming, and off-farm employment has become more common. The resulting changes have dramatically altered the social fabric, aspirations, and identify of the people of the region.

Cost of aging, by Ronald Lee and Andrew Mason. 2017. Finance & Development [quarterly publication of the International Monetary Fund]. 54(1). (March).

A graying population means more elderly people who may not support themselves entirely from their own assets or labor income. But it may also bring more capital per worker and rising productivity and wages. Whether population aging is good or bad for the economy will depend, in large part, on how well public policy adjusts to new demographic realities.

Does unplanned urbanization pose a disease risk in Asia? The case of avian influenza in Vietnam, by Sumeet Saksena, Nong Huu Duong, Melissa Finucane, James H. Spencer, Chinh C. Tran, and Jefferson Fox. 2017. AsiaPacific Issues No. 128. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Research into the possible link between unplanned urban expansion and disease outbreaks compared patterns of land-use change in Vietnam with outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI, subtype H5N1). The study found that "peri-urban" areas had a much larger risk of experiencing an H5N1 outbreak than did other parts of the country.

International criminal justice and Southeast Asia: Approaches to ending impunity for mass atrocities, by Emma Palmer and Christoph Sperfeldt. 2016. AsiaPacific Issues No. 126. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Only 3 of 11 states in Southeast Asia have ratified the UN Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, designed to end impunity for the worst mass atrocities. Various bodies are working to promote ratification of the Statute in the region. There is also scope to tackle the problem by building a regional consensus.

More Publications by East-West Center Authors…

EWC Research in the News

11 November 2017—Don't let Russia get too much inside our heads, San Francisco Chronicle: Christopher McNally

In Russia and China, “it is difficult to separate business from politics,” said Christopher McNally, an adjunct senior fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu. The two sides are “smudging the lines, especially when the business reach a certain size. It’s very murky.”

23 October 2017—US must get back into the game in the Asia Pacific, The Hill: Peter A. Petri and Michael G. Plummer

"President Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on his first day in office and called it a 'ridiculous' trade deal that deserved to die. But when Trump travels to Asia in early November, visits five countries and meets 20 regional leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, he will find the pact alive and well. The remaining members are working to conclude the agreement on their own. In fact, this and other trade deals in the works could leave the United States regretting that potentially costly day in January."

6 October 2017Gunning for a trade war with China, Trump may target burgeoning solar industry, World Politics Review: Dieter Ernst

“’In late September, the U.S. International Trade Commission declared that growing imports of solar panels had significantly hurt U.S. manufacturers. The decision could provide the cover for President Donald Trump to make good on his threats to put up trade barriers with China…. Trade warfare would come at a heavy price to both sides."

13 September 2017—Taiwan activist's subversion case pushes relations with China to another low, Voice of America: Denny Roy

“Beijing has been in the mode of demonstrating that China is not happy with Taiwan and can cause Taiwan pain in a variety of ways,” said Denny Roy, Senior Fellow at the East-West Center. “In that sense, Beijing welcomes a deterioration of relations with Taiwan.”

11 August 2017—North Korea aside, Guam faces another threat: Climate change, New York Times: Victoria Keener

"Because Guam is not particularly low-lying, it probably would be less vulnerable to the effects of rising sea levels than an island such as Kwajalein Atoll, where Lockheed Martin is building a $915 million radar system for the United States Air Force," according to Victoria Keener, Research Fellow at the East-West Center. "But Guam’s topography is no guarantee that its climate adaptation projects will be effective over the long term," said Victoria Keener, a Research Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu. "The adaptation work includes research… on coastal infrastructure in tourist areas, as well as a Pentagon-financed study to explore how climate change may affect the island’s freshwater resources."

More East-West Center in the News…

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