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Consular Series

Discussing questions of international security and diplomacy
The Consular Series, an initiative of the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney, responds to complex challenges by facilitating discussions between academics, diplomats and policymakers.

Contemporary challenges to diplomacy are many and varied. With populist leaders such as Putin, Trump and Duterte subverting diplomatic norms, the USA and China seeking relative gains in power, proxy wars underway in Yemen and Syria, and North Korea oscillating from foe to friend and back again, diplomacy is increasingly under pressure.

These multidisciplinary forums gather international experts to discuss questions of international security and diplomacy, informed by academic research and practical considerations. The series aims to open up diplomacy to new thinking while simultaneously testing academic theories against the realities of diplomatic and security considerations.

Each forum in the Consular Series is undertaken in partnership with Consulate-Generals from the Indo-Pacific region that are based in the city of Sydney.

Security on the Korean peninsula: making sense of the nuclear crisis

The Korean Peninsula has been rocked by change and uncertainty on both sides of the de-militarised zone in recent years. 2017 saw the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye and the rapid installation of President Moon Jae-in as her successor. Amid heightened tensions with North Korea, he has vowed a new approach to dealing with diplomatic and security issues on the Korean peninsula.

All the while, North Korea has been accelerating its missile and nuclear development programs, with the United States under President Donald Trump shifting from strategic patience to a more confrontational stance. However, meetings between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in to discuss peace commitments, Kim Jong-un’s recent visit to China, and his unprecedented meeting with Donald Trump in Singapore indicate that the situation remains as unpredictable as ever.

The first forum in the CISS Consular Series was held at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth on 27 November 2017. The forum featured:

  • Consul-General Sangsoo Yoon of the Republic of Korea Consulate in Sydney who welcomed guests and provided his insights into the current situation on the Korean Peninsula.
  • Professor Colin Wight, Head of the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, who provided his expert opinion on the need for increased diplomacy, discussion and debate with North Korea.
  • Dr Hwang Ildo of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and National Security at the Korean National Diplomatic Academy, speaking on "Nuclear Quagmire: North Korea’s Calculus and South Korea’s Perspective."
  • Dr Justin Hastings of the Centre for International Security Studies and Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, speaking on "North Korea's Economy, Sanctions, and the Nuclear Crisis."

Security on the Korean Peninsula: Making Sense of the Nuclear Crisis was presented in cooperation with the Consulate-General of the Republic of Korea in Sydney.

Rethinking security in the Indo-Pacific region: a diplomatic debate

As China and the United States of America struggle to assert their dominance in the Indo-Pacific region, ‘middle powers’ such as Australia and Japan find themselves confronting ever-evolving diplomatic and security challenges.

With Japanese diplomacy focused on the ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ strategy, the strength of military and diplomatic ties between the Quadrilateral powers and their diplomatic outreach to smaller states in the Indo-Pacific region is becoming increasingly important.

The second CISS consular forum was held at the Art Gallery of NSW on 8 March 2018 and featured a working lunch as well as a public forum of distinguished international and Australian guests.

  • Mr Kentaro Sonoura is Special Advisor (National Security) to Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and former State Minister for Foreign Affairs. He has served in the House of Representatives in the Diet since 2005.
  • Professor James Der Derian is Director of the Centre for International Security Studies and Michael Hintze Chair of International Security at The University of Sydney. He has written extensively on the theory and history of diplomacy.
  • Professor Brahma Chellaney is professor of strategic studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi. He is a specialist on international strategic issues.
  • Professor Rikki Kersten is Dean of Arts at Murdoch University in Western Australia. She specialises in Japanese history, politics, security policy and foreign policy, with a special interest in Australia-Japan relations and the US-Japan alliance.
  • Professor Richard Samuels is Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He specialises in Japanese politics, foreign policy and security policy.
  • Dr Seiichiro Takagi is Senior Research Advisor at the Japan Institute of International Affairs. He is a specialist on Chinese foreign relations and security issues in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Mr Peter N Varghese AO is the Chancellor of the University of Queensland and former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). His extensive career in public service spanned 38 years and included senior positions in foreign affairs, trade policy and intelligence.

Rethinking Security in the Indo-Pacific Region: A Diplomatic Debate was presented in cooperation with the Consulate-General of Japan, Sydney at the Art Gallery of NSW.