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  • Author: Raffaello Pantucci, Abdul Basit, Kyler Ong, Nur Aziemah Azman, V. Arianti, Muh Taufiqurrohman
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has redefined almost all spheres of modern life. While states around the world are redeploying their financial resources, energies and military capabilities to cope with the challenge of the coronavirus, terrorist groups across the ideological spectrum have positioned themselves to exploit the gaps created by these policy re-adjustments. Terrorist groups are milking people’s fears amid confusion and uncertainty to promote their extremist propagandas. The rearrangement of global imperatives will push counter-terrorism and extremism down the priority list of the international community. Anticipating these policy changes, existing counter-terrorism frameworks and alliances should be revisited to devise cost-effective and innovative strategies to ensure continuity of the fight against terrorist groups. With these considerations in mind, this special issue of the Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses (CTTA) features four articles that identify and assess important security risks around COVID-19, given its far-reaching social, economic and geopolitical impact. In the first article, Raffaello Pantucci reasons that COVID-19 will have a deep-seated and prolonged impact across government activity, both in terms of the categorisation of risks, as well as the resources available to tackle other issues. Perceptions of risk around terrorist threats may shift, with states grappling with stark economic, social and political challenges. At the same time, security threats continue to evolve, and may even worsen. According to the author, some of the tools developed to deal with the pandemic can potentially be useful in tracking terrorist threats. However, resource constraints will require states, on a global scale, to think far more dynamically about how to adequately buffer much-needed security blankets both within and beyond their borders. In the second article, Abdul Basit outlines the opportunities and potential implications that COVID-19 has created for terrorist groups across the ideological divide. According to the author, terrorist groups have exploited the virus outbreak to spread racial hatred, doomsday and end-of-times narratives. Among jihadist groups, IS has taken a more totalitarian view of the coronavirus pandemic, while Al-Qaeda (AQ) and the Taliban have used it as a PR exercise to gain political legitimacy. Far-right groups in the West have spun it to promote native nationalism, border restoration and anti-immigration policies. Terrorist groups have increased their social media propaganda to radicalise and recruit vulnerable individuals. At the same time, these groups have urged their supporters to carry out lone-wolf attacks and use the coronavirus as a bioweapon. In the post-COVID-19 world, revisiting existing counter-terrorism frameworks to devise more adaptable and cost-effective strategies would be needed to continue the fight against terrorism. In the next article, V. Arianti and Muh Taufiqurrohman observe that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a varied impact on Indonesia’s security landscape. On the one hand, it has emboldened IS-affiliated Indonesian militant groups to step up calls for attacks, with the government seen as weakened amidst a worsening domestic health crisis. On the other, ongoing indoctrination and recruitment activities of militant groups have also faced disruptions. According to the authors, counter-terrorism strategies will need to be reoriented as circumstances evolve, particularly in dealing with the arrest of militants and the subsequent processes of their prosecution and incarceration. Finally, Kyler Ong and Nur Aziemah Azman examine the calls to action by far-right extremists and the Islamic State (IS), which reveals varying degrees of organisational coherence in the respective movements. According to the authors, such variations influence these two groups’ preferred techniques, tactics and procedures adopted in seeking to exploit the health crisis. For its part, IS has a more organised hierarchical structure, even if it has increasingly granted autonomy to its affiliates to plan and execute attacks. In comparison, the absence of a central authority, or command structure in the far-right, can lead to a fragmentation of interests. These factors invariably create uncertainties in how, when and where extremists of both ilk may seek to operationalise an attack.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Health, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: K. U. Menon
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, also known as the swine flu pandemic, was a test of risk communications methodology and processes. Governments were called upon to make tough decisions in the absence of substantive epidemiological data and baffling case fatality rates (CFRs). While New York adopted mitigation measures, Hong Kong and Singapore followed aggressive containment protocols. Recent studies however suggest that the benefits of such measures – achieved at great cost and allocation of resources – are minimal. This review looks primarily at the experience of a small city-state, Singapore, and compares it with two other equally densely populated cities – New York and Hong Kong – and how all three confronted the challenge and the lessons to be drawn from their experience in risk communications. Communicating risk required deft handling by political leaders and officials to persuade people to adopt strict measures. In the wake of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic, there were high expectations in Hong Kong and Singapore for visible containment measures to continue in the event of future pandemics even when benefits were known to be minimal. Cultural differences may explain the receptivity of the populace in these countries to the stiff measures put in place to contain the disease. However, this requires further study.
  • Topic: Health
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Evan A. Laksmana
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper seeks to explore and assess the implications of climate insecurities for the armed forces of the Asia-Pacific region, and in particular Southeast Asia. It identifies key issues and trends related to climate insecurities – in the areas of mass migration, diseases, natural disasters and the scarcity of water, food and other resources. It then details the implications for armed forces in the region with reference to the strategic, institutional and operational realms, and contends that climate change will become both a burden multiplier and a threat multiplier in the decades to come.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Health, Migration
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Bruce Tolentino
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The forces of globalization, in tandem with realities of domestic natural resources, economics and politics, and the influence of international institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), are re-shaping the food security policy and strategy of nations such as the Philippines. This paper describes the forces that have come to bear on the shaping of food security policy in the Philippines in recent years, and the Philippine Government's responses to the challenges.
  • Topic: Security, Agriculture, Health
  • Political Geography: Philippines, Southeast Asia