Fragile and Failing States

This node looks at the threat to regional and international security from weak, fragile and failing states. In addition to examining the characteristics of fragile states and the causes of state failure, key themes include the security-development nexus, peacekeeping, humanitarian intervention, and post-war reconstruction.

Australian Foreign Policy and the South Pacific

Australia's engagement with its immediate region has waxed and waned, ranging in the last few decades from solely economic aid to police and military intervention, and the relationship between Australia and the states of the South Pacific has often been fraught. But geographic proximity links the situation in the South Pacific to Australia's interests, and Australia's involvement is of great significance to the region.

This body of research examines the evolution of Australia's policy towards and relationships with its neighbours, in particular East Timor and the South Pacific. It also explores region-wide pressures such as internal instability, transnational crime, and environmental degradation and the challenges facing international assistance efforts in Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and East Timor.

This project draws on and contributes to broader research on fragile states, the limits of statebuilding (for example in Afghanistan), the security-development nexus, and Asia-Pacific regional security and development issues.

Middle East Security 'After Iraq'

Whilst the invasion of Iraq in 2003 successfully removed a brutal dictator, it also unleashed a wave of internecine violence, heightened in the aftermath of the February 2006 destruction of Samarra's golden domed mosque. Recently ranked number two in Foreign Policy's 2007 failed state index, analysts are still guessing about the eventual outcome for Iraq, its people and the wider region. This project investigates the impact of what is now commonly referred to as 'after Iraq' on the immediate Gulf region and wider Middle East. Preliminary research reveals that it would be wrong to see all events taking place in the region today as intimately linked to Iraq. Events there may certainly act as a catalyst for and influence the timing of, many political and security currents, yet underlying the responses to events taking place across the region today and in the short-to-medium future, are inherently local factors. Today the Arab Middle East and Iran constitute a region of weak states but strong regimes, the latter acting consistently in response to events both within and without their borders in their own national interests.

Human Security in the Middle East: Perceptions and Realities

Human Security is an emerging but still contested area of post-Cold War security studies. In a region like the Middle East, in which most ruling elites consider regime security a higher priority than state security, what might human security mean? Conducted in collaboration with Dr. Deborah Wheeler of the Department of Political Science at the US Naval Academy, this project will examine perceptions of human security in the Middle East through the eyes of people living in geographically diverse locations throughout the region and across the social spectrum: men and women, children and youth, rich and poor, middle class, employed and unemployed, urban and rural. Their perceptions will emerge from their 'real life' narratives concerning their hopes and dreams, fears and insecurities relating to issues such as power, the market, the state, war, repression and resistance. Five states have been identified for the initial case studies: Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Oman.

Whilst the primary aim of this project is to give the study of security a 'human face', the data will also be used to draw wider conclusions on regime and state security, regional security and their broader impact on the international security environment.