Global Governance | Analysis and New Insights

Nontraditional Security and Multilateralism in Asia: Reshaping the Contours of Regional Security Architecture?

Mely Caballero-Anthony | June 2007


Southeast Asia is confronted with both traditional and new security challenges emerging from a host of transnational threats. These newly emerging trends, referred to as nontraditional security (NTS) threats, are defined as challenges to the survival and well-being of peoples and states that arise primarily out of nonmilitary sources, such as climate change, cross-border environmental degradation and resource depletion, infectious diseases, natural disasters, irregular migration, food shortages, people smuggling, drug trafficking, and other forms of transnational crime.

The gravity of the problem can be seen in the way these transnational threats are now increasingly discussed not only in academic circles but also among senior policymakers in East Asia. It is therefore timely to examine how Asia—particularly the East Asian region—is addressing the emerging security challenges through its various regional institutions, mechanisms, and relevant security arrangements. How exactly are NTS threats (re)shaping the institutional architecture in East Asia?