Crisis in Yemen


The war in Yemen has been raging for more than 4 years with catastrophic outcomes for its people. Out of a population of 28 million, 24 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. Fifteen million of them are on the brink of famine. Vital infrastructure in Yemen has been destroyed and its people are suffering the worst outbreak of cholera in history. This is the world’s largest humanitarian disaster, yet there is hardly any international news coverage.

Melissa Parke is a member of the UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen. At our November meeting, Melissa talked about how what began as a civil war, has broadened into a regional conflict involving powerful states. She discusses the parties involved and their responsibility for human rights violations according to the UN Human Rights Council, as well as the responsibility of states that are supplying weapons and other assistance to parties to the conflict.

To see the video that was played at the start of this presentation click here

The read the Report of the detailed findings of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, click here

Maritime disputes are multifaceted. They include overlapping claims of sovereignty and jurisdiction, contests over freedom of navigation, island-building and militarization, and the use of ‘grey zone’ tactics to harass, intimidate and advance strategic interests. Maritime disputes have become highly visible microcosms of broader discord between the US-led regional security order, and challenger conceptions of order that see a bigger role for rising powers in generating new rules and alternative interpretations of existing international law. In this presentation Dr Bec Strating compares and contrasts the maritime security interests of key Indo-Pacific states and their attitudes to maritime rules, and reflect on the potential implications for regional maritime order building.

Australia is a country with considerable, if under-utilised, reserves of soft power – the ability to achieve influence internationally via attraction rather than compulsion. In this presentation Professor Ben Reilly will discuss some claims regarding Australian soft power, including our democratic political system, multicultural society, and open economy, all based on broad-based norms of social equality and the rule of law. It will then discuss how these ideas have found their way into recent Australian foreign policy doctrine via recent White Papers, in which norms and values have been elevated to frame the Indo-Pacific region.

Beyond Trump


Donald Trump's election campaign has been described as 'explosive, populist, and polarising, and his direct to market use of social media has been unprecedented. His election signified a powerful rejection of establishment consensuses on trade, immigration, and other issues. And while constraint on executive power was a key intention in the design of the US Constitution, it is hard to imagine that the presidency of Donald Trump will not leave some lasting impacts on the nature and practice of US politics. 

In this panel discussion, Professor Gordon Flake, Michael Wood, and Dr Sherry Sufi explore the implications of the  administration of President Donald Trump.

Mark Beeson provides an overview of the key issues and problems currently facing global governance and explains why international cooperation has become so difficult. Mark’s presentation is a snapshot of his new book, Rethinking Global Governance.

The world currently faces a number of challenges that no single country can solve. Whether it is managing a crisis-prone global economy, maintaining peace and stability, or trying to do something about climate change, there are problems that need collective action on the part of states and other actors. Yet despite global governance seeming like a good idea, it's proving increasingly difficult to provide.

Click here to see a video of the slides used to accompany this presentation with the audio.

With reference to case studies in Africa and South East Asia, Dr Paul Schaffer challenges the theory of Export Oriented Industrialisation to show that successful development can be driven by strategies tailored to specific circumstances and that are directly focused on the alleviation of poverty in agricultural communities.

Dr Schaffer also talks about middle income countries of Latin America explaining how regulatory and training responses to high risk governance and corruption have blocked the professionalisation of management and caused conflicts in public expenditure. Dr Schapper will discuss the outlook for the resolution of this issue, arguing that there will need to be difficult transition from procedural compliance to performance accountability in public sector administration.

Click here to see a video of the slides used in this presentation with the audio.

Sara David is a midwife and the founding CEO of Living Child Inc.  She has been working in the Keram River area of East Sepik Province where, in recent decades, women have had little access to family planning, pregnancy and birth care and immunisation. Sara will discuss how she has negotiated cultural taboos and myths to enable the delivery of equitable, evidence based birthing practices with greatly improved outcomes for mothers and babies.

Sara now organises teams of midwives to provide support, simple teaching resources and professional development to local health workers and village volunteers. She one of the inaugural recipients of The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's new Australian Aid: Friendship Grant program.

To see the slides that accompanied this presentation click here

On 17 April 2019 up to 193 million eligible voters in Indonesia went to the polls. For the first time in Indonesian history, the president, the vice president and members of the local and national legislatures were elected on the same day. The two presidential candidates were the incumbent t President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and former Lieutenant-General Prabowo Subianto. The election was a re-match of the 2014 presidential election, in which Widodo defeated Prabowo.

The new make-up of parliament is of significant interest to Australia, as it will determine whether or not the recently signed Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) will be ratified by Indonesia and, if so, how long it may take to get through. If ratified the IA-CEPA is expected to help build economic prosperity throughout the region since most predictions have Indonesia on track to be the world's fifth-largest economy by 2030.

Join the panelists Phil Turtle, Ella S. Prihatini, and Associate Professor Hadrian Djajadikerta to discuss what the presidential election and the IA-CEPA mean for Australia.

The UK plans to leave the European Union on 29th March 2019, nearly three years after a referendum vote in June 2016. Negotiating Brexit has been a major preoccupation for the UK over the last two years. It has caused major political dislocation in the UK and divided the government, parliament, political parties, and the public.

The UK has been a participant in the European integration process since 1973 and over the last 45 years its politics, economy, society, and place in the world have been increasingly tied to Europe. Brexit is a major point of departure for the UK.

On the eve of the UK’s departure from the EU Professor Whitman will untangle the intricacies of the Brexit process, look at the state of play in the UK’s relationship with the EU, and offer an assessment of the UK’s future place in Europe.

In his recent book, "Asian Century … on a Knife-edge," John West questions the conventional wisdom that the 21st century will belong to Asia. He argues that in recent years many observers have succumbed to a case of “Asian-Century hype.” In reality, Asia is suffering from stunted economic and social development. John identifies seven economic, social, political and geopolitical challenges for realising an Asian Century, but doubts that Asia’s leading economies have the political will to tackle these challenges. Further, he identifies numerous possible sources of economic, social, and political crisis.


Nevertheless, the Indo-Pacific of the 21st century is becoming increasingly dominated by Asia’s emerging giants - China, India and Indonesia - which have some of the world's largest economies. John argues that these countries are fragile superpowers whose power derives mainly from their enormous populations. Even by mid-century, they will still be well behind advanced countries like the US, Japan and Germany in terms of economic, business, and technological sophistication. But this has not stopped the rise of strategic competition between an increasingly distracted US and a growingly assertive China, despite the latter's domestic fragilities. Countries like Australia face great challenges in adapting to this new strategic environment.


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