The 2023 Myanmar Update aims to understand, celebrate, and explicate the Myanmar people’s resistance to the 1 February 2021 coup. The military’s violent crackdown on what was initially a peaceful popular uprising provoked a near-countrywide revolutionary movement, which has brought together an array of different political, ethnic, and religious groups fighting for the shared goal of ending military rule. While differences exist in objectives and strategies, the establishment of organisations like the National Unity Government (NUG) and the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), as well as the numerous other formal and informal alliances, has arguably created an unprecedented sense of unity among Myanmar’s diverse peoples and raised widespread hope that this time the struggle may succeed.    

The conference seeks to explore the complexities of the revolutionary struggle; the effects of the coup on the state and economy; and, the myriad ways in which the people in Myanmar are coping with deepening violence and poverty.

  • How has the coup and the popular response to it reshaped Myanmar politics?
  • How are new armed groups forming, and how are they sustained?
  • What has happened to the civil disobedience movement?
  • What are the social, economic, and psychological implications of continued violence?
  • How is the diaspora contributing to the revolution?
  • How can foreign governments and the international aid community best support resistance to dictatorship?

We aim to address these kinds of questions, among others, in this conference.

The conference will take place at The Australian National University on Friday 21 July – Saturday 22 July 2023.

The two-day conference will feature scholars and experts from Australia, Myanmar, UK, North America and around the regions.

There are also pre-conference events on Thursday 20 July that we will list on our conference program with more information:

Convening Committee

  • Cecile Medail - Visiting Fellow, Department of Political and Social Change, ANU,
  • Morten Pedersen - Board member, Myanmar Research Centre, ANU,
  • Yuri Takahashi - Lecturer and Convenor of the Burmese Program, ANU,
  • Samuel Hmung - Research Officer, Myanmar Research Centre, ANU,


The 2023 ANU Myanmar Update is supported by the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, the International Development Research Centre, Canada, the International IDEA, and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Conference Participation

We would love for you to join us in person, in the Auditorium, Australian Centre on China in the World Building #188 on the ANU Campus, on Friday 21 July and Saturday 22 July. 

The 2023 Myanmar Update will be live streamed via Zoom Events. Please note no Q&A from the online audience, and some sessions are in-person only, we apologies for this inconvenience.

Please register in-person and online tickets via Zoom Events. You will get both in-person and online tickets via Zoom Events. If you have any queries, or need assistance to register in the Zoom Eevents platform, please let us know. Email: 


Free of charge

  • Reception for the launch of exhibition and guest lecture (20 July 2023)
  • Pre-conference dinner for speakers, chairs and invited guests (20 July 2023)
  • Conference reception (21 July 2023)
  • Morning tea and afternoon tea (21 July 2023)
  • Afternoon tea (22 July 2023)
  • Lunch for speakers, chairs and organisers (21-22 July 2023)

Fees for general participants

  • Conference lunch (21 & 22 July) is proudly provided by the Australia Mon Association in Canberra: $10 per meal for participant.


Pre-conference Events (Thursday 20 July)

8.30am-4.30pm Early Career Researcher workshop (by invitation)

4.30-5pm Launch of Myanmar Update photo exhibition by Mayco Naing (Artist and Curator)

Venue: Auditorium Foyer, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

  • Introduction by exhibition curator Mayco Naing
  • Photo exhibition by Mauk Kham Wah and Mayco Naing
  • Video documentary -1 minute per day in the 60 days following the coup by M. (screening all day on 21-22 July only, CIW seminar room)

5-5.30pm Refreshments (for exhibition and guest address)

5.30-6.30pm Guest Lecture - De-‘Area Studies’-izing Burmese History: the African (and African American) ‘Burma” Experience in the Twentieth Century

Venue: Auditorium, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

  • Michael Charney, SOAS, University of London

7-8.30pm Preconference Dinner (by invitation) 

Day 1 (Friday 21 July)

Venue: Auditorium, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

9-9.30am Welcome

  • Welcome to the Country by Paul Girrawah House, First Nations Portfolio, ANU
  • Opening remarks by Helen Sullivan, Dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

9.30-10.30am Keynote Address 

Chair: Nick Cheesman, ANU

  • H.E. Zin Mar Aung, Minister of Foreign Affairs, National Unity Government of the Union of Myanmar (online)
  • Discussant: Tun Aung Shwe, Representative to Australia of the National Unity Government of the Union of Myanmar

10.30-10.45am Morning Tea

10.45am-12.45pm Political Update

Chair: Andrew Selth, Griffith University

  • Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Ye Myo Hein, Wilson Center (online)

12.45-1.45pm Lunch Break

1.45- 3.15pm Panel 1: The Revolutionary Movement

Chair: George Lawson, ANU

  • Samuel Hmung and Michael Dunford, Australian National University - “Understanding Myanmar’s Civil Disobedience Movement”
  • Ellen, McMaster University, Canada - “Women's agency in armed struggles in Myanmar's Spring Revolution”
  • Lukas Nagel, Griffith University - “Creative resistance and nationalism among youth activists in post-coup Myanmar”

3.15-3.30pm Afternoon Tea

3.30-5pm Panel 2: Revolutionary Governance

Chair: Jane Ferguson, ANU

  • Gerard McCarthy and Kyle Nyana, Erasmus University - “Governing revolution: Post-coup insurgent social order in Chin State and Sagaing Region” (online)
  • Tay Zar Myo Win, Deakin University - “Emerging local governance in Anyar”
  • Khin Zaw Win, Tampadipa Institute - "Reimagining the goals of the Spring Revolution"

5-6.30pm Conference Reception (In-person only)

Venue: Auditorium Foyer, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

  • Promotion of Art Exhibition: How to quantify FEAR? by artist and curator Mayco Naing 

Day 2 (Saturday 22 July)

Venue: Auditorium, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

9.30-10.00am Book Launch: "Myanmar in Crisis" (In-person only)

  • Book author: Michael Dunford, Australian National University 
  • Discussant: Cecilia Jacob, Australian National University 

Book Sale - A limited number of books are available for sale for AUD $25 (card only).

10am-12pm Economic Update and Humanitarian Issues 

Chair: Paul Burke, ANU

  • Jared Bissinger, Independent analyst
  • Tom Kean, International Crisis Group
  • Anne Décobert, and Tamas Wells, University of Melbourne -“Myanmar’s humanitarian crisis and the conflict paradox for local aid organisations"

12-1pm Lunch Break

1-3pm Policy Panel & Closing Remarks (In-person only)

Chair: Morten Pedersen, UNSW Canberra 

  • Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Khin Zaw Win, Tampadipa Institute
  • Jared Bissinger, Independent analyst
  • Representative, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

3-3.15pm Afternoon Tea

3.15-4.45pm Burmese Language Roundtable: "Researching and reporting in post-coup Myanmar" (In-person only)

Venue: Seminar Room, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

Chair: Samuel Hmung, ANU

  • Swe Win, Myanmar Now 
  • Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Khin Zaw Win, Tampadipa Institute


မြန်မာဘာသာ စကားဝိုင်း၊ “အာဏာသိမ်းပြီးမြန်မာနိုင်ငံတွင် သုတေသနပြုလုပ်ခြင်းနှင့် သတင်းတင်ဆက်ခြင်း”

သဘာပတိ - Samuel Hmung (ANU)

  • ဦးဆောင်ဆွေးနွေးသူ - Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung (University of Massachusetts Lowell)ဆွေဝင်း (Myanmar Now)၊ ခင်ဇော်ဝင်း (Tampadipa Institute)

Join our panel discussion about the 2023 New Zealand election and its impact.

Want to know more about the recent New Zealand election? Join our exceptional panel of Aotearoa New Zealanders as they unpack the ‘why’ and ‘what next' of the 2023 general election and what it could mean for Pacific countries and people.

The evening includes a brief background of the recent election, a facilitated discussion among three outstanding New Zealand academics based in Australia, and a Q&A session.


Professor Dominic O’Sullivan (Te Rarawa, Ng­āti Kahu) is Professor of Political Science at Charles Sturt University, adjunct professor at Auckland University of Technology, and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society Te Ap­ārangi.

Dr Areti Metuamate (Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāti Haua) is an educationalist and Vice Warden at Ormond College, University of Melbourne

Dr Kerryn Baker is a Research Fellow in the Department of Pacific Affairs at The Australian National University.

Facilitated by Jayden Evett, a PhD candidate and New Zealand studies specialist with the Department of Pacific Affairs.

NOTE: this is a hybrid event. For online attendance please sign up to receive the Zoom link. Pre-event canapes will be held in the atrium from 5.30pm. 

Pacific states and peoples inside global climate change negotiations (UNFCCC COP): from consensus, coherence to ‘climate updated’

For more than 35 years Pacific islands’ states and peoples have led and shaped the global agenda in global climate change negotiations. This seminar will detail the multi-year research that traces, follows and works with Pacific states and peoples inside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) annual Conference of the Parties. In utilising Global Talanoa (global political ethnography and talanoa) the research gives access inside the negotiations where the project has studied and provided research brokerage for leaders, state delegates and civil society in the negotiations over the years. Situated at the intersection and interplay of international politics and climate change, it follows the work of Pacific states from the Paris COP21 in 2015, to the recent Sharm El Sheik COP27 in 2022 – how they have held space in shaping and influencing the negotiations agenda. The ‘Pacific society’ of officials, diplomats, civil society, activists and leaders have not only help build, but also reach consensus on climate action. Moreover, the research explores the coherence of various regional mechanisms, political processes and coalitions Pacific states have established over the years to manage the negotiations. Through research brokerage and ‘climate updated’ the presentation provides insights to the future of negotiations – and the case for the Australia and Pacific Islands climate change COP.

NOTE: this is a hybrid seminar. For online attendance please sign up to receive the Zoom link.

The recording of the seminar is available below:

Event Speakers

George Carter is a Research Fellow in Geopolitics and Regionalism, at the Department of Pacific Affairs at The Australian National University (ANU).

PLEASE NOTE: This is a hybrid event and will take place in-person as well as on Zoom.

Small island developing states (SIDS) recognise climate change as the single greatest threat to their development, sustainability, and security. They illustrate how climate-induced events such as sea level rise and severe weather events threaten the everyday lives of people across the world. While the security communities prioritise traditional threats and geopolitical rivalry, communities in island nations are concerned about an ongoing existential threat and its impact on their potential for development.

Please join PhD candidate Athaulla (‘Atho’) Rasheed as he presents an update on his research. Using the cases of Maldives and Samoa, Athaulla aims to show how SIDS have navigated their security interests in terms of climate security. This presentation will discuss some aspects of climate security in Maldives. It will provide a pathway to the analysis of Samoa and the final empirical findings of the PhD research.

Event Speakers

Athaulla Rasheed

Athaulla Rasheed

Athaulla is a PhD candidate at DPA, focusing on international relations, particularly on small island developing states (SIDS), climate change and international politics and security. He developed a constructivist research agenda for understanding the role of SIDS in UN climate negotiations. His current research looks at international politics and construction of climate security in SIDS.

While rentierism, tactical politics and coercion can come together to strengthen a regime, that is not necessarily a given. In the Iraq case, rentierism and effects from political decision-making led to an increased reliance on coercion by ruling regimes to maintain power.

Drawing upon literature on rentier state theory, the politics of survival, and the role of coercion in state consolidation as well as the author’s experience in Iraq, this thesis addresses the question of how resource dependency, elite strategies to gain or maintain control, and coercion have shaped state cohesion in Iraq?

Given the broad academic interest in the persistence of authoritarianism in different country contexts and the effects of international intervention, the contribution of this thesis is its integration of different theories to allow for a richer discussion regarding how elite competition and international intervention can impact state development.



John D. Moore
With over 20 years of experience across the Islamic world serving in a mix of development, security as well as energy sector roles, John’s research interests focus on the relationship between resource dependent economies, politics, security, and development outcomes.

Having first engaged on Iraq during the 1997-1998 period while with the US Department of Defense, he spent several years working on and living in the country during the 2003 – 2012 period. John is currently pursuing his doctoral degree, having earned a Masters Degree in Political Economy and International Security Studies from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from the Virginia Military Institute.


Join via Zoom link
Meeting ID: 867 1834 3082
Password: 198184

Over the past half-century, most countries in the Indo-Pacific region have experienced unprecedented economic growth and development, and many have reached, or will soon reach, what the Asia Foundation and DFAT refer to as Advanced Middle-Income Country (AMIC) status ($4-20K GNI per cap). The default assumption tends to be, having reached this phase, the development will continue more or less unabated. Yet, the global empirical evidence tells a different story—most AMICs face major problems of stalling growth and instability that slow development and sometimes derail progress altogether. In fact, in the past five decades, few countries have made it through the AMIC phase. The primary reasons appear to be linked to perverse political dynamics that slow reform in two critical domains—economics and governance. In the years ahead, new challenges related to rapidly advancing technology, the changing global economy, climate change, and the rise of China further complicate already difficult development transitions in these countries. The ability of AMICs in the region to navigate the growth and stability challenges ahead will in part determine the economic and security future of the Indo-Pacific. The developed economies in the region, especially Australia, Japan, and Singapore, have an immense economic and security stake in the continued progress of these countries. Yet with aid graduation usually occurring around $4-5K GNI/cap, how can these countries continue to support reform?  

In this seminar, William Cole will summarise some of the common challenges facing AMICs in the Indo-Pacific region and present elements of a general framework for assessing emerging constraints and opportunities. He will also offer preliminary thoughts on key reform and how international actors could be helpful.


Dr. Cole has worked at senior levels in The Asia Foundation (TAF) since 1997 and now serves as Senior Advisor for Program Strategy, supporting innovative programs in several areas including economic reform, governance, technology, and geostrategic issues. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the College of Asia and the Pacific resident at the Coral Bell School researching challenges facing countries in the latter stages of development, what TAF and DFAT refer to as Advanced Middle-Income Countries (AMICs). 

We have heard enough now about US-China rivalry in Asia but not enough about its implications for the region. Join us and our three panelists to unpack this and more.

Chair and Speaker:

Chanintira na Thalang (Associate Professor, Thammasat University, Thailand): Unpacking Thailand’s Perceptions of and Position Amidst the US-China Rivalry


Ketian Vivian Zhang (Assistant Professor, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University): China’s Gambit: The Calculus of Coercion

Wen-Qing Ngoei (Associate Professor of History, College of Integrative Studies, Singapore Management University): Singapore and U.S. Informal Empire in Southeast Asia

Speaker Profiles:

Chanintira na Thalang is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University. Her current research interests include ASEAN, Global IR, ethnic conflicts and security in Southeast Asia. She is the author of a number of books written in Thai. Her work has also been published in English in a variety of academic journals such as International AffairsNations and NationalismAsian SurveyElectoral Studies, the Journal of Current Southeast Asia, the Australian Journal of International Affairs and Asian Ethnicity. More recently, she co-edited a volume entitled, International Relations as a Discipline in Thailand: theory and practice published with Routledge in 2019 and two special issues published in The Pacific Review and Contemporary Southeast Asia in 2022.

Ketian Vivian Zhang is an Assistant Professor at George Mason University. She studies rising powers’ grand strategies, coercion, economic statecraft, and maritime disputes, with a focus on China. Her research has appeared in International SecurityJournal of Strategic StudiesJournal of Contemporary ChinaAsia Policy, and Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs.

Wen-Qing Ngoei is Associate Professor of History at the Singapore Management University (SMU). He received a PhD in the history of U.S.-Southeast Asian relations at Northwestern University. Following postdoctoral stints at Northwestern University and Yale University, he taught history at the Nanyang Technological University before joining SMU. His first book, Arc of Containment: Britain, the United States, and Anticommunism in Southeast Asia (Cornell) traces how British decolonization strategies intertwined with anticommunist nationalism and anti-Chinese prejudice in Southeast Asia to usher the region from formal colonialism to U.S. hegemony. He has published in journals such as Diplomatic History and Journal of American-East Asian Relations.

Zoom information will be sent in the confirmation email.

For more information, contact the GRADNAS (The Graduate Research and Development Network on Asian Security) Coordinator, Dr. Stuti Bhatnagar at

This event is the eighth in the GRADNAS Seminar series of 2023 that showcases the cutting-edge academic research on Asian security by GRADNAS members. It presents an exciting opportunity for research exchange involving the network, providing a regular occasion for GRADNAS scholars to share and receive feedback on their ongoing and published research. Join us as we celebrate and showcase the excellent research by GRADNAS members and friends. Visit our website here.

If you require accessibility accommodations or a visitor Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan please contact the event organiser.

In an increasingly complex world, it is more crucial than ever to have a full picture of how international peacekeeping can be a force for good, but can also have potentially negative impacts on host communities. After thirteen years of presence in Haiti, the highly controversial United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti has now withdrawn. The UN’s legacy in Haiti is not all negative, but it does include sexual scandals, the divisive use of force to ‘clean up’ difficult neighbourhoods as well as a cholera epidemic, brought inadvertently by Nepalese peacekeepers that killed more than 8,000 Haitians and infected more than 600,000.

This book presents a unique multi-disciplinary analysis of the legacy of the mission for Haiti. It presents an innovative account of contemporary international peacekeeping law and practice, arguing for a new model of accountability, going beyond the outdated immunity mechanisms to foreground human rights.

This book launch will bring in conversation Nicolas Lemay-Hebert (ANU Coral Bell School), Rosa Freedman (University of Reading), and Siobhan Wills (Ulster University) over their recently published book The Law and Practice of Peacekeeping: Foregrounding Human Rights by Cambridge University Press. Buy it here.

Guest speakers include Lisa Sharland (Australian Strategic Policy Institute) and Charles T. Hunt (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology). Cecilia Jacob (ANU Coral Bell School) will facilitate this discussion.

Political machines have played a significant role in democracies around the world, as both political parties and politicians have relied on them for their electoral success. “The word ‘machine,’ explains Clarence Stone (1999, p. 446) “connotes an organization capable of delivering a vote with mechanical regularity.” While much literature argues that there has been a dramatic decline of machines in American cities (Banfield & Wilson 1963; Riedel 1964; Allswang 2019; Chubb 1981), political machines have continued to persist in many other parts of the world.

Contemporary studies of political machines are intertwined with analysis of clientelism and patronage, especially in developing countries. As a result, political machines tend to be quite narrowly understood mostly in clientelist terms. While there is ample data on how political machines operate in clientelist societies and how patronage is distributed through a web of brokers to voters, literature has provided a limited understanding as to how contemporary political machines evolve, endure, and decline.

Hicken et al. 2019 assert that local political machines are the building blocks of contemporary Philippine politics. Another recent study (Aspinall et al. 2022) demonstrates that Philippine political machines are relatively enduring as compared to their counterparts in Indonesia. In my initial investigation, however, I have found that there is in fact substantial variation in the longevity of local political machines. My study is focused on contemporary urban political machines in the Philippines, asking how they evolve and endure, and identifying the challenges that threaten their demise. With my focus on the Philippines, I will contribute to the understanding of political machine endurance in the context of a weak party system and personality-based politics.


About the speaker

Mary Joyce Bulao studies local politics and her interests include elections, urban political machines, local governance, and distributive politics. Prior to coming to ANU, she was a faculty member and the chairperson of the Social Sciences Department of the Ateneo de Naga University in the Bicol Region located in the southeastern tip of Luzon in the Philippines.

Indigenous peoples have a long history of conducting international diplomacy, from their relations with one another across the continent for tens of millennia, their engagement with peoples outside Australia, and their contributions to the current international political system.

What makes Aboriginal-Australian international relations unique? Why in modern Australia are such approaches and worldviews important? And what can we learn from such unique ways of knowing, being, and doing?

Such questions have rarely been explored by International Relations Scholarship. In the inaugural Coral Bell School Annual Lecture on Indigenous Diplomacy, Dr Mary Graham and Associate Professor Morgan Brigg will explore these issues in a wide-ranging discussion on Aboriginal Australian political ordering and relationality in international politics.

The inaugural Coral Bell School Annual Lecture on Indigenous Diplomacy is the first and only national event in Australia celebrating and exploring First Nations peoples and their contributions to international relations, diplomacy, foreign policy, and political thought.


Dr Mary Graham is a Kombumerri person (Gold Coast) through her father’s heritage and affiliated with Wakka Wakka (South Burnett) through her mother’s people. She has worked across government and universities, teaching Aboriginal history, politics and comparative philosophy, and incorporating Aboriginal knowledges into curricula. She is one of the foremost writers on Aboriginal Australian knowledges, and philosophy.

Dr Morgan Brigg is an Associate Professor at the University of Queensland and long-term collaborator with Mary Graham. He specialises in conflict resolution, peacebuilding, political theory, and the politics of knowledge. His research facilitates exchange between Western and Indigenous political philosophies and socio-political orders as part of a wider exploration of the politics of cultural difference, governance, and selfhood.

Jointly supported by ANU First Nations Portfolio, Tjabal Centre and Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.

Panel 1
Supporting women’s agenda: Access to justice and security

Date: 6 December 2021
Time: 7-8pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom
Speakers: Habiba Sarābi, May Maloney, Samira Hamidi
Moderator: Farkhondeh Akbari

Watch panel 1 here

Panel 2
Prioritising actions with girls: Access to protection and rights

Date: 8 December 2021
Time: 7-8 pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom
Speakers: Fereshta Abbasi, Nicole van Rooijen Moderator: Bina D’Costa

Watch panel 2 here

To commemorate the ‘End Violence against Women’ campaign (25 Nov - Dec 10), join the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, ANU and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for a two-part conversation on the importance of addressing this issue in Afghanistan.

Over the last two decades, the United States and other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have invoked the rights of Afghan women and girls to help justify their military engagement in Afghanistan.

Following the US and NATO withdrawal, and with the recent spate of violence it is clear, that women and girls are facing immediate threats, in the country and elsewhere. In this context, what is the responsibility of the international community? What roles could human rights defenders and practitioners play in supporting women and girls?

Our experts will share their insights to offer an overview of different manifestations of violence against women and girls.

Recognising the importance of this issue and the different needs and attributes of girls/children, we have divided the conversations into two parts.


Habiba Sarābi was a member of the Afghan Government’s negotiation team, former deputy chair of High Peace Council and reformer during post-Taliban reconstruction in Afghanistan. In 2005, she was appointed as Governor of Bamyan which made her the first Afghan woman to become a governor of any province in the country. She previously served as Afghanistan’s Minister of Women’s Affairs as well as Minister of Culture and Education. Sarābi has been instrumental in promoting women’s rights and representation and environmental issues.

Samira Hamidi is Regional Campaigner for Amnesty International South Asia Regional Office. Her work focuses on human rights, peace process, women’s rights and transitional justice issues in Afghanistan. Previously she has worked with the EU delegation in Afghanistan, Norwegian Embassy, UN Women, CMI, Folke Bernadette Academy and Sweden Embassy as Freelance Consultant focusing on human rights, women, peace and security and civil society issues.

May Maloney is the Deputy Head of the Addressing Sexual Violence team for ICRC based in Geneva. She has over a decade’s experience addressing sexual and gender-based violence, gender and diversity and social inclusion in the human rights, community development, torture and trauma, and humanitarian fields. Her work focuses on technical field support and leading the Sexual Violence team’s humanitarian diplomacy priorities, operational research outcomes, and external relations.

Fereshta Abbasi graduated with an LLB in Law and Political Science from Herat University and an LLM in International Law and Strategic Studies from the University of Aberdeen. She is an accomplished human rights campaigner, and a vocal advocate for human rights. She has highlighted human rights abuses in Afghanistan for several years, especially as a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Nicole van Rooijen is a Protection Programme Manager for Asia and the Pacific for the International Committee of the Red Cross. With over 16 years of experience at the ICRC, Nicole has worked in various contexts, including Zimbabwe, Colombia, Afghanistan, Jordan and Gaza. Now at the ICRC headquarters in Geneva, she oversees protection work in the Asia-Pacific region. Nicole holds a Masters in Human Geography from the University of Amsterdam and has experience in protection training, as well as working with internally displaced people, on sexual and gender-based violence, and on community protection.


Bina D’Costa is a Professor at the Department of International Relations, ANU Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. Through human rights framing, her research focuses on displaced children’s protection in global humanitarian emergencies in trafficking, child/early marriage, exploitative child labour and sexual abuse contexts. Previously, as a UN staff member, she has worked in the Middle East, Horn of Africa, and South Asia, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan with Afghan displaced communities.

Farkhondeh Akbari is a PhD student at the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. Her research focus is on diplomatic actors and peace settlements with non-state armed actors, looking at the negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Farkhondeh has worked at Afghanistan’s Independent Directorate of Local Governance, the United Nations Headquarters and Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

Norm scholarship in International Relations (IR) tends to investigate the contestation of actors operating at the peak of governance. It therefore overlooks the perspective of ordinary citizens who are directly affected by international norms and institutions. To address such shortcomings, Dr Ruji Auethavornpipat examines backlash against Rohingya refugees among grassroots actors in Malaysia.

In this presentation, Ruji captures backlash as a distinct and radicalized form of contestation. Backlashers do not merely target the validity of specific norms. They engage in normative re-ordering with a larger goal of dismantling existing societal fabric. He seeks to advance the norm literature by making two contributions. First, he integrates insights from backlash politics into IR norm research. Second, he surveys online hate speech to capture the reality of stakeholder engagement during COVID-19.

Dr Ruji Auethavornpipat is a Research Fellow in the Department of Political and Social Change, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, the Australian National University. His research examines norm contestation and migrant protection in Southeast Asia. Details of his activities and recent work can be found here:

Australia and Thailand are both middle powers and allies of the United States. Both are important players in the Indo-Pacific, with Thailand the second largest economy in ASEAN and Australia a founding member of the Quad. But there are also significant differences, including with respect to relations with China and respective political systems.

This panel session will explore divergences and convergences in Australian and Thai foreign policy, the worldviews underpinning those positions, and how and where the two countries can cooperate in an era of increasing strategic competition and increasing geopolitical uncertainty.


Susannah Patton is Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Lowy Institute and the Project Lead for the Asia Power Index. She has previously worked in various Southeast Asia-focused positions in the Australian government, including as a Senior Analyst in the Southeast Asia Branch at the Office of National Intelligence and as a diplomat in the Australian Embassy in Bangkok.

Jittipat Poonkham is Associate Professor of International Relations, Associate Dean for International Affairs and Director of International Studies Program in the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University. He is an author of A Genealogy Of Bamboo Diplomacy: The Politics of Thai Détente with Russia and China (ANU Press 2022) and a co-editor of International Relations as a Discipline in Thailand: Theory and Sub-fields (Routledge 2019).


Greg Raymond is a lecturer in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs researching Southeast Asian politics and foreign relations. He is the author of Thai Military Power: A Culture of Strategic Accommodation (NIAS Press 2018) and the lead author of The United States-Thai Alliance: History, Memory and Current Developments (Routledge, 2021).

View the report here.

Since the dawn of the atomic age, nuclear weapons have been central to the internal dynamics of US alliances in Europe and Asia. But nuclear weapons cooperation in US alliances has varied significantly over time and space. Partners in Deterrence goes beyond traditional accounts that focus on US policy regarding deterrence and reassurance, and instead places the objectives and influence of US allies at the centre of analysis. Through several case studies, Stephan Frühling (ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs) and Andrew O’Neil (Griffith University) reveal that US allies have wielded major influence in shaping nuclear weapons cooperation with the US in ways that reflect their own, often idiosyncratic, objectives.

Chaired by the Director of the Griffith Asia Institute, Professor Caitlin Byrne, this event will celebrate the launch of Partners in Deterrence by Australia’s pre-eminent strategist Emeritus Professor Hugh White.

Purchase the book here. Watch the launch here.


Professor Stephan Frühling, Australian National University

Professor Frühling teaches in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Coral Bell School, and has widely published on Australian defence policy, defence planning and strategy, nuclear weapons and NATO. Stephan was the Fulbright Professional Fellow in Australia-US Alliance Studies at Georgetown University in Washington DC in 2017. He worked as a ‘Partner across the globe’ research fellow in the Research Division of the NATO Defense College in Rome in 2015, and was a member of the Australian Government’s External Panel of Experts on the development of the 2016 Defence White Paper.

Professor Andrew O’Neil, Griffith University

Professor O’Neil is Acting Dean of the Graduate Research School at Griffith University. He has published widely in the broad areas of international relations and strategic studies and is currently chief investigator on projects focusing on the Australia-US alliance funded by the Australian Research Council and Australia’s Department of Defence. Andrew is a former member of the Australian Foreign Minister’s National Consultative Committee on Security Issues and is a member of the Australian Research Council’s College of Experts.

Professor Caitlin Byrne, Griffith University

Professor Byrne is Director of the Griffith Asia Institute. Caitlin’s research is focused on Australian Diplomacy with a special interest in Australia’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. Most recent research projects explore the role of leadership, soft power and public diplomacy – including people-to-people connections developed through international education, culture and sport – in developing Australia’s regional influence, relationships and reputation. Caitlin consults on occasion to government in the areas of strategic foreign policy and diplomatic practice.

Emeritus Professor Hugh White, Australian National University

Hugh White AO is Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. His work focuses primarily on Australian strategic and defence policy, Asia-Pacific security issues, and global strategic affairs especially as they influence Australia and the Asia-Pacific. Hugh has served as an intelligence analyst with the Office of National Assessments, as a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald, as a senior adviser on the staffs of Defence Minister Kim Beazley and Prime Minister Bob Hawke, and as a senior official in the Department of Defence, where from 1995 to 2000 he was Deputy Secretary for Strategy and Intelligence, and as the first Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

Professor Desmond Ball AO was the leading figure in strategic studies of his generation and made a major contribution to global scholarship in a field of vital importance in the Cold War by arguing that limited nuclear war was simply not credible. US President Carter said that Des Ball’s “counsel and cautionary advice based on deep research, made a great difference to our collective goal of avoiding nuclear war.” In over 40 years’ service at ANU, Des made a remarkable contribution to this university as a scholar, teacher, academic leader, and mentor. This lecture commemorates his legacy as an outstanding scholar.

America’s renowned geostrategist, Zbigniew Brzezinski, proclaimed four years ago that the most dangerous scenario facing the US would be a grand coalition of China and Russia, united not by ideology but by complimentary grievances. The thesis proposed by Emeritus Professor Paul Dibb is that such a grand coalition of China and Russia is now fast becoming a geopolitical fact in an era of growing tensions among the major powers.

China and Russia are the two leading revisionist powers leagued together in their contempt for the West. Both these authoritarian states see a West that they believe is preoccupied with debilitating political challenges at home. The evidence now is accumulating to suggest that the relationship between China and Russia is at its closest since the 1950s. If the China-Russia military partnership continues its upward trend, it will inevitably seek to undermine the international security order by challenging the system of US-centred alliances in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. Moreover, both China and Russia have outstanding territorial ambitions they seem intent on pursuing.

So, what are the chances of Beijing and Moscow concluding that now is the time to challenge the West and take advantage of what they both consider to be Western weaknesses? Is the strategic alignment between China and Russia in effect now a de facto alliance or not? Paul Dibb will explore the pros and cons of this proposition and its implications for Australia.

Paul Dibb is Emeritus Professor of strategic studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He was Head of the Centre from 1991 to 2004. His previous positions include Deputy Secretary for Strategy and Intelligence in the Department of Defence, Director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation, and Head of the National Assessments Staff in the National Intelligence Committee. He is the author of 5 books and 4 reports to government, as well as more than 150 academic articles and monographs about the security of the Asia-Pacific region, the US alliance, and Australia’s defence policy. He wrote the 1986 Review of Australia’s Defence Capabilities (the Dibb Report) and was the primary author of the 1987 Defence White Paper.


In recent years, a new school of thought has challenged the conventional notion that presidential systems in multi-party regimes face instability and ineffectiveness. This concept, known as "coalitional presidentialism," argues that presidents can achieve stability by forming post-electoral coalitions with legislative parties. In the case of Indonesia, Marcus Mietzner argues in his presentation that the country's post-2004 system goes beyond the boundaries of traditional coalitional presidentialism.

Unlike the exclusive focus of coalitional presidentialism scholars on alliances between presidents and legislative parties, Indonesian presidents, according to Mietzner's research, have treated non-party actors as equal coalition partners. These actors include representatives from the military, police, bureaucracy, local government, oligarchy, and Muslim organizations, all of whom are included in the cabinet. This inclusive approach aims to protect presidents not only from threats originating in the legislature but also from potential attacks by other veto powers.

Furthermore, Mietzner highlights that beyond cabinet representation, non-party actors are integrated into presidential administrations through continuous negotiation and recalibration. This process establishes clear boundaries for non-negotiable vested interests on both sides.

As a result, Indonesia's post-2004 presidentialism, as Mietzner argues, has achieved a remarkable level of stability when compared to international peers and the country's own transitional period between 1998 and 2004. However, this stability has come at a cost. Presidents have made significant concessions to their coalition partners, which has had detrimental effects on democratic quality. The regime that has emerged prioritizes stability for those who benefit from its existence while excluding those considered less important and unworthy of participation.

Marcus Mietzner is Associate Professor in the Department of Political and Social Change. His research interests include the political role of the military in Indonesia; Indonesian political parties, particularly campaign financing issues; elections in Indonesia; and comparative electoral politics in Southeast Asia.

The great American political scientist Seymour Lipset once said, “they that know only one country, know no countries”.

This panel addresses the issue of comparisons in our political discourse, and in particular “whataboutism” - the response China critics often make when it is pointed out that other countries have committed egregious actions similar in kind, if not scale, to China. By this, they mean that the comparison raised is a distraction from dealing with China’s actions. But this approach arguably sits uneasily with our desires to avoid double standards. This panel of experts will discuss the ethical and political aspects of “whataboutism”, with a focus on China.


Ian Hall is a Professor in International Relations and the acting Director of the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University. He is also an Academic Fellow of the Australia India Institute and a co-editor (with Sara Davies) of the Australian Journal of International Affairs.

Van Jackson is a political scientist and former Pentagon strategist specialising in Asia-Pacific security, the politics of US foreign policy, and the theory and practice of grand strategy. He is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington, a Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, and a Senior Associate Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Wellington, New Zealand.

Yun Jiang is the inaugural AIIA China Matters Fellow. Prior to this, she was the co-founder and editor of China Neican, and a managing editor of the China Story blog at the Australian Centre on China in the World.


Gregory Raymond is a lecturer in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs researching Southeast Asian politics and foreign relations. He is the author of Thai Military Power: A Culture of Strategic Accommodation (NIAS Press 2018) and the lead author of The United States-Thai Alliance: History, Memory and Current Developments (Routledge, 2021).