Comprehensive Security and Regional Cooperation in Northeast Asia
Policy Briefs

Comprehensive Security and Regional Cooperation in Northeast Asia

APLN Policy Brief 77

Dr. Frances Mautner-Markhof, Executive Director of the Austrian Center for International Studies in Vienna, makes the case that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is a good model for Northeast Asia as: 

  • The 1992 Inter-Korean Basic Agreement has much in common with the 10 principles of the Helsinki Final Act that underpin the OSCE and provides a solid basis for dialogue to achieve comprehensive security through regional cooperation in Northeast Asia. 
  • Security and other threats are increasingly perceived as regional threats and are dealt with in the first instance on a regional basis. 
  • If there is political will from the countries involved then, existing military alliances in Northeast Asia should be no obstacle. The Cold War political and security situation did not prevent the creation of the OSCE. 

She argues that a regional cooperation mechanism can provide a neutral and supportive framework for informal dialogue, formal talks and support dispute resolution. Moreover, the existence of a such a mechanism would decrease the perceived desire among some countries in Northeast Asia to station US nuclear weapons on their soil. 

Dr. Mautner-Markhof recommends that a Northeast Asian multilateral security agreement should be explored through informal dialogue and working-level meetings, and like the OSCE, should be based on three areas: 

  1. Important traditional and non-traditional security-related issues including transborder issues and threats. 
  2. Intensive and extensive cooperation in economic areas such as trade, investment and finance, as well as cooperation on energy and environmental issues. 
  3. Identifying fundamental principles, common interests and bridge-building.  

During times of crisis, it is difficult to create a mechanism for security and conflict management. Yet it is essential to have such a mechanism in place before they arise and escalate. 

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About the Author

Dr. Frances Mautner-Markhof is Executive Director of the Austrian Center for International Studies (ACIS) in Vienna. She is a recognized expert on North Korea, multilateral security cooperation, and nuclear non-proliferation. Before joining ACIS she was an official of the International Atomic Energy Agency. She has led research projects at the Brookings Institution, the German Foreign Policy Institute (DGAP), and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria, and has cooperated with the OSCE on joint projects/activities. She has lectured at the Harvard Kennedy School; the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; the OSCE; the Institute of Political Science, University of Vienna, as well as in the Republic of Korea, China, Japan and the Russian Federation.

Disclaimer: The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Asia Pacific Leadership Network or any of its members.

Image: Wikimedia Commons/APLN