International Relations > Regions
The Asia-Pacific is one of today's most dynamics and interesting macro-regions; and it is likely its importance will further increase in the future, maybe to the point of becoming the most important area of the globe. It represents a significant share of the world's GDP, trade volume, and population. It is home of huge developed economies like Japan, China and South korea; but also of fast-growing ones such as Vietnam or Indonesia. Again, many of the world's leading firms are based or operate there.
Still, the Asia-Pacific is also home of regional rivalries and strategic challenges that threaten its stability as well as that of the whole international scene.
The Asia-Pacific is marked by a strong US military and political presence; which is a source of tensions with China, America's main competitor both in regional and global terms. The PRC is still growing economically and at the same time it is strengthening up its military and taking a more assertive stance to protect its interest. Beijing is involved in the main territorial disputes in the region, namely the one in the South China Sea with several South-East Asian states, the one over the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands with Japan, without forgetting the particular and decade-long diatribe about the sovereigny over Taiwan; and all such situations have the potential to spark a conflict that may well escalate. Moreover, China's rise is made more difficult by a series of challenges of demographic, economic, and political nature; and their developments will determine the impact the role the PRC will have in the upcoming future.
Another longstanding major probelm for regional and global stability is the situation in the Korean peninsula, where reunification is still far from being achieved and where the North's nuclear programme is causing concern in among its neighbors and the international community in general; which may as well result in an all-out war whose consequences would be serious.
On its part, South-East Asia is the home of many rapidly-developing economies and the stage of a regional integration experiment (ASEAN) whose success is still limited; but it is also a zone marked by ethnic and religious tensions as well as by great power competition due to its strategic role of connection between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Finally, the region is witnessing a rise in natioanlist discourse, that combined with the aforementioned disputes and a generalized military build-up formes a dangerous mix.
It is therefore essential for political decision-makers and firms to understand this region in order to properly face its challenges and manage the subsequent risks.
The Asia-Pacific is the macro-region I know better, as it was my regional focus during my Master's degree.
On this page, you will find reports on the international issues regarding the area as a whole, or involving different regional actors.
See on the right for the papers focusing on a specific country.
The Six-Party Talks: Analysis of an International Negotiation
The Six Party Talks (SPT) were a series of international negotiations taking place between 2003 and 2009 with the aim of solving the North Korean nuclear issue. They took their name from the fact that they involved the six main actors in the region: the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia. All in all, they ultimately resulted in a failure, as Pyongyang kept on developing nuclear weapons and managed to obtain them in following years.
In this paper, I examine the SPT by providing a brief historical contextualization and then by applying five different analytical approaches, concentrating on the positions of the US and the DPRK:
- Behavioral: it focuses on the personality of negotiatiors; in this case I evaluate how the mindframes of George W. Bush and Kim Jong-il influenced the SPT.
- Cultural: it assesses the influence that culture-specific factors have on negotiations; I mainly examined the role of the North Korean Juche ideology and of American neocons thinking.
- Processual: this analytical framework emphasizes how the negotiations are organized and how they take place.
- Structural: deriving from the Realist school in IR, it concentrates on the existing balance of power between the parties; I show that the particular military situation existing in Korea (where the US-RoK military superiority is balanced by the DPRK's ability to rapidly inflict massive damage to the South, notably Seoul) led to a stall in the SPT where no side could force its positions on the other.
- Strategic: it applies game theory models to explain the negotiation's outcome, and here I show that, in a typical case of prisoner's dilemma, both parties acted to ensure their own security thus leading to a situation where both were threatened.
I conclude my analysis arguing that the SPT failed because of the deadlocked military equilibrium and the strategic decisions of the US and DPRK.
Note that I wrote this paper as a task for the course in International Negotiations at Université Catholique de Louvain during my Master's program. This version is sligthly different from the one I submitted back then: I added pictures and I made some minor corrections to the text, which in any case remains almost identical.
Click here to read the report.