Short course focus on Pacific regional security   

Professor Rouben Azizian (front centre, with red tie) with course partiicipants at Massey's Auckland campus, Albany

With North Korea’s recent threat to target United States’ Micronesian territory Guam in the Western Pacific Ocean, a course on Pacific regional security last week was timely.

The inaugural Pacific Security Dynamics professional development course held at Massey’s Auckland campus provided an overview of comprehensive security trends and issues in the Asia-Pacific region for 21 participants from 12 government agencies, security and defence organisations, as well as defence media.

The four-day course, run by the Centre for Defence and Security Studies and PaCE (Professional and Continuing Education), examined the security environment in Asia-Pacific region as well as New Zealand’s policy responses and options.

The programme began with a polling exercise to determine the view of the participants on the current state of security in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by panel discussions on security, economics and development; key actors and institutions in the region; transnational security issues and challenges; and conflicts and flashpoints.

Participants also took part in a practical exercise, using a real-life scenario with a potential to destabilise regional stability and require New Zealand’s response.

At the end of the course polling results were reviewed to see if the presentations and discussions had changed views. While the participants continued to disagree in their assessment of regional security issues, they emphasised their better appreciation of the complexity of regional security environment and its impact on New Zealand.  

Speakers and course facilitators included academics from Massey’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies, School of People, Environment and Planning and the Pasifika Directorate, as well as from Waikato and Victoria Universities, and government and non-governmental agencies involved in security policy and planning.

Academic leader and centre director Professor Rouben Azizian says the course exemplified a successful partnership with Massey’s stakeholders as well as collaboration across academic units at the University.

“The course provided a timely opportunity to discuss acute security challenges, such as North Korea, as well as review key trends in the Pacific Islands region during the Pacific Islands Forum summit, which was happening the same week,” he says. 

“Participants were required to apply the knowledge obtained during the interactive course to assess the impact of regional security on New Zealand and consider policy responses to regional security challenges.” 


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