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Local residents engage in a community dialogue near Siem Reap as part of the Asian International Justice Initiative's Voices for Reconciliation project in Cambodia

The Asia Pacific region is experiencing rapid political, social, economic, and environmental change. Some countries in the region lead the world in economic growth, while others lag behind. Some boast long and well-established democratic traditions, while others struggle with issues of governance and human rights. And everywhere, policymakers are dealing with environmental challenges, population change, health risks, pressure for greater political participation, and uncertainties in the global economy.

The East-West Center Research Program engages the research and policy communities in the US and the Asia Pacific on issues of common concern. Research staff collect, evaluate, and analyze information from a wide range of sources from the region and beyond. The goal is to provide more complete knowledge and deeper understanding of the environments, societies, economies, and governments of the Asia Pacific region. Research is conducted in close collaboration with networks of individuals and institutions throughout the region and is shared broadly with planners, policymakers, and regional specialists as well as with the general public. In addition to their own collaborative activities, the research staff help to define, inform, and support the activities and partnerships of the Center's leadership, education, seminars, media, profession-development, and training programs, resulting in a strong institutional identity in support of the EWC mission.

The East-West Center currently conducts research in three broad areas:

Highlights

The Center’s research addresses pressing environmental issues, critical health concerns such as HIV/AIDS and emerging infectious diseases, rapidly changing population dynamics, trade and economic development, governance and human rights, and decision making under conditions of uncertainty. Researchers provide expert analysis to governments and national and regional organizations through consultations, publications, conference participation, and engagement with the media.

Environment, Population, and Health

Pacific RISA, the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program (www.PacificRISA.org), supports integrated research across the social and physical sciences to expand the options of decision-makers facing climate variability and change. Pacific RISA is one of 11 programs in the United States funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Center scholars are involved in a number of collaborative research projects on economic development and environmental change in South and Southeast Asia. One ongoing project looks at Forest, Agriculture, and Urban Transitions in Mainland Southeast Asia, focusing on Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, and Vietnam. Another new project examines Forest Dynamics in the Middle Hills of Nepal after 25 Years of Community Forestry Management. Recently completed studies include an assessment of the Economic Development and Land-Use Change: Expansion of Cash Crops in Southeast Asia, with a focus on rubber and an exploration of Modernization and Emerging Infectious Diseases: The Case of Avian Influenza in Vietnam.

The National Transfer Accounts (NTA) project is a collaboration between the East-West Center, the Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging at the University of California Berkeley, and national and regional organizations in 47 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America. By providing estimates of income, consumption, saving, and both public and private transfers for specific age groups, NTA adds an important dimension to measures of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other widely used economic indicators. These estimates provide insights into the financial and welfare consequences of alternative policies on taxation, pensions, healthcare, education, and other social programs.

Researchers at the East-West Center have recently completed an international study on Policy Responses to Low Fertility. Results are being published in two edited volumes and a series of United Nations policy briefs, which were discussed at an expert group meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York. This project is part of collaborative, long-term work on Family Change in Asia and the United States. A series of studies examine attitudes and behavior in relation to education, marriage, divorce, cohabitation, childbearing, childcare, employment, and relationships with parents and children using survey data from Japan, South Korea, and other Asian countries as well as the United States.

The East-West Center conducts Policy Analysis, Research, and Training on the HIV Epidemic in Asia. Center scholars have developed two computer models for use in analyzing the spread of the epidemic—the Asian Epidemic Model (AEM) and the UNAIDS Estimation and Projection Package (EPP). Software developed at the Center enables national health programs to analyze their local HIV epidemics and develop effective policy responses. Beginning in Thailand and Cambodia and extending to Burma (Myanmar), Hong Kong, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Vietnam, Peru, and Ukraine, collaborative research teams have investigated the dynamics of the epidemic and have helped develop successful prevention strategies.

Innovation, Economic Integration, and Growth

Research at the East-West Center examines how Trade and Innovation within Global Networks are transforming relationships between the United States and Asia. This work focuses on three areas: (1) A series of agenda-setting workshops on Mega-Regionalism—New Challenges for Trade and Innovation; (2) continuing analysis of China’s innovation policy and its impact on economic relations between China and the US; and (3) Innovation and trade policies and corporate strategies in other Asian countries that are major exporters of information and communications technology—India, South Korea, Taiwan, and Malaysia. A related  collaborative project focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, an ambitious effort to sustain and invigorate America's economic linkages with the dynamic economies of the Asia Pacific region.

Economic Policy Issues: Joint Project with the Korea Development Institute. The East-West Center and the Korea Development Institute (KDI) have collaborated for nearly 30 years in the publication of an annual series of studies on economic policy.

Rebalancing China's Political Economy. This research project focuses on China’s attempts to make a transition from export- and investment-driven growth toward a more domestically centered model based on internal consumption, rising incomes, and environmental sustainability.

Governance, Security, and Justice

The Asian International Justice Initiative (AIJI) is a collaborative project between the East-West Center and the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University. AIJI works in partnership with national and regional institutions in Asia to implement programs on the rule of law, human-rights education, and capacity building. The Initiative promotes understanding of international fair-trial standards and accountability for human-rights violators, especially in international criminal trials and proceedings in national courts.

Effective democratic governance is central to the East-West Center's mission of promoting a peaceful, prosperous, and just Asia-Pacific region. In pursuit of this mission, the Asia-Pacific Governance and Democracy Initiative (AGDI) undertakes policy-relevant research, organizes capacity development and leadership workshops and senior-level dialogues, and publishes books and policy briefs on important governance and democracy topics in the region. To better understand the role of cities in economic growth and reasons for expanding inequalities in urban areas, a new collaborative activity is looking at Urban Governance for Sustainable Development in Asia.

Other research looks at the Impact of the Rise of China on Region Security in Asia and the Pacific. This work includes assessment of the prospects for peace or conflict in the South China Sea.