School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations

Centre for Strategic Studies: New Zealand
Te Pokapū Take Rautaki Aotearoa

Welcome to the Centre for Strategic Studies

The Centre for Strategic Studies is the New Zealand anchor for research, teaching and public dialogue on strategic and security issues. We’re proud to announce that the 2013 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, produced by the International Relations Program of the University of Pennsylvania, ranks CSS second among think tanks in Asia and the Pacific. We’ve also been designated as the 31st best university-affiliated think tank worldwide. More than 6800 think tanks are listed in the index and thousands of international scholars, policymakers, journalists, government officials, donors and think tank executives provide peer and expert review to the rankings.

The Centre has four main streams of activity:

Recent Events:

Kippenberger Chair 2014 attachment completed:  Professor Rosemary Foot’s attachment to the Centre as the 2014 Sir Howard Kippenberger Chair in Strategic Studies finished in style with an address to a large audience at the NZ Institute of International Affairs on the topic of ‘The Responsibility to Protect and its Evolution as a Global Norm’. In her ten weeks as a guest of the Centre, Professor Foot (from St Antony's College, Oxford) spoke to groups from Auckland to Dunedin in formal lectures, roundtable discussions, media appearances and classroom lectures with audiences ranging from the general public and students, through government officials and members of Wellington’s diplomatic community. Her material ranged widely over issues of current relevance to Asia-Pacific security, including discussions of the drivers and moderators of possible conflict in the region, relations between regional powers, including China and the US, and the region’s ever growing institutionalisation. A CSS Discussion Paper based on her formal Kippenberger lecture: ‘Constraints on Conflict in the Asia-Pacific: Balancing the War Ledger in the 21st Century’ will be published soon.

Roundtable hosted by Asia New Zealand Foundation:  Dr Jim Rolfe, Director of CSS and Paul Sinclair, Regional Security Fellow, took part in a roundtable hosted by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, with Professor Nick Bisley, Executive Director of La Trobe Asia at La Trobe University in Melbourne.  Professor Bisley provided an analysis of Australian foreign policy under Prime Minister Abbott.  The subsequent discussion focussed on Australia’s policy towards Asia, the indo-Pacific concept, Australia’s approach to free trade agreements and Australia’s role on the United Nations Security Council.

Roundtable with Team Managing Asia Pacific Country Risk for J.P. Morgan:  Dr Jim Rolfe, Director of CSS and Paul Sinclair, Regional Security Fellow, met the team managing Asia Pacific country risk for J.P. Morgan on 27 March.  The Wellington visit and range of meetings with government and private sector agencies and think tanks, is part of J.P. Morgan’s annual country rating process.  Subjects discussed at our meeting focussed on geo-political risks in the Asia/Pacific region including tensions in the East and South China seas, trans-national crime, the changing regional power balance and its implications, the likely increase in illegal foreign fishing encroachments in the South Pacific EEZ’s and in the Southern ocean as fishing stocks are depleted elsewhere, and the impact of climate change.

Workshop on Track Two Diplomacy and Transfer: CSS Director of Research, David Capie, gave a paper on “Track two diplomacy and transfer in Southeast Asia” at a workshop on Track Two Diplomacy and Transfer held at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, 20-21 March 2014. The workshop explored how track two diplomacy contributes to conflict resolution and security cooperation, with cases including Northern Ireland, Israel-Palestine, US-Soviet relations during the Cold War as well as conceptual issues. The paper, which was co-authored with Professor Brian Job from the University of British Columbia, will be forthcoming as a chapter.

Roundtable with Professor Akio Takahata:  On 20 March the Centre for Strategic Studies hosted  a roundtable with Professor Akio Takahata, a specialist in Asia /Pacific security issues at Japan’s Hakuoh University, and a regular contributor to the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.  Professor Takahata was accompanied by Maruo Shinichi, head of the Political Section in the Japanese Embassy in Wellington. Subjects discussed included China/Japan relations, Japan/US relations, perceptions of United States leadership on global and regional issues, United States re-balancing in the Asia/Pacific region, Japan’s relationship with Russia in the wake of the annexation of Crimea, and Japan’s security relationship with New Zealand.

Centre for Strategic Studies Contributes to track one ASEAN Regional Forum Workshop on Preventive Diplomacy Training: Paul Sinclair, Regional Security Fellow at CSS attended the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) roundtable on training resources for Preventive Diplomacy hosted by MFAT in Wellington 20-21 March.  ARF Ministers in 2011 had endorsed a Work Plan on Preventive Diplomacy.  The roundtable focussed on the capacities and capabilities of the ARF and its participants in the field of Preventive Diplomacy, and on training needs.  The objective was to identify options for  regional training and prospects for  collaboration with international programme such as that conducted by  the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.

Roundtable with the Massey Centre for Defence and Security Studies:  The Centre in partnership with the Massey Centre for Defence and Security Studies hosted a roundtable on 4 March with Dr Bernd Kubbig, Project Director of the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt and Adjunct Professor at Goethe University, Frankfurt.  Dr Kubbig discussed his experiences as Coordinator of the international experts group known as the Multilateral Study group on the Establishment of a Missile Free Zone in the Middle East.  Participants were drawn from both Centres' staff and stakeholders and had a wide-ranging discussion on frameworks for developing peace and security within regions.  A general conclusion was that for short term stability specific local factors are probably more important than generally applicable principles for long term peace.

27th February Discussions with the Philippines Ambassador:  The Philippines Ambassador Virginia Benavidez visited the Centre for Strategic Studies on 27 February to discuss recent developments in the case the Philippines has put forward to the Arbitral Tribunal established under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in respect of China’s South China Sea claims and the likely timetable for the Tribunal’s consideration of the Philippines case.  She also discussed the development of confidence building measures to reduce the risk of maritime incidents in the region, progress on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and the work of the ADMM+ Expert Working Group on Maritime Security which New Zealand is about to co-chair with Brunei.

CSCAP Maritime Security Study Group Meeting: Paul Sinclair, Regional Security Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies, co-chaired with Singaporean and Indonesian counterparts the second CSCAP Maritime Security Study Group meeting.  The meeting held in Jakarta 17-19 February focussed on measures to build confidence to reduce the prospect of an incident in the maritime commons escalating to conflict.  Immediately prior to that meeting Paul Sinclair attended a CSCAP experts meeting on proposals to ensure the safety and security of vital undersea communications infrastructure for which currently there are no adequate international mechanisms.

6th East Asia Security Outlook Seminar: CSS Director, Dr Jim Rolfe, gave a paper 'Comprehensive Security and Non-Government Organisations' at the 6th East Asia Security Outlook seminar in Brunei on 18 February 2014. The seminar is an annual event organised by Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies. The themes of this year's seminar were around cooperation to achieve security outcomes. Papers were given by a range of international scholars on the development of ASEAN as a security community, ASEAN's security relationships and on regional maritime security. The audience was drawn primarily from Brunei's security community.

Roundtable with visiting Swiss MP: The Centre for Strategic Studies hosted a roundtable on 11 February 2014 with Swiss MP Thomas Aeschi. Mr Aeschi, who was accompanied by the Swiss Ambassador HE Marion Weichelt, is Chair of the Parliamentary Association Switzerland for Australia and New Zealand. A wide-ranging discussion took place covering the impact of China’s rise on the Asia Pacific region, regional security architecture; New Zealand foreign policy, European security issues and cyber security

Asia-Pacific Integration Symposium: In partnership with the New Zealand Institute for International Affairs and the Asia: New Zealand Foundation, the Centre for Strategic Studies hosted a one-day conference on the economic and security dimensions of Asia-Pacific integration on 13 November. The conference attracted more than 100 participants and heard papers from a range of New Zealand and international analysts. Overall there was general consensus, if not complete agreement, that the region (however defined) is integrating in the economic and security spheres, that the two are linked but not necessarily correlated with each other, that the processes are different in each arena and that there are both opportunities and potential costs for New Zealand in these regional developments. New Zealand takes an active role in both the security and economic arenas and, most participants argued, should continue to do so.

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PDF icon Asia-Pacific Integration Symposium Programme  1.23 MB PDF





  • Sixth Japan/New Zealand Track 1.5 Dialogue: Paul Sinclair, Regional Security Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies, participated in the sixth track 1.5 dialogue with Japan held in Wellington on 23 September. The dialogue was jointly organised by the NZIIA and the Asia New Zealand Foundation. He presented a paper: The Korean Peninsula: how much of a problem? (PDF, 417 KB) Other topics discussed during the dialogue included: China's growing influence; the regional economic architecture in the Asia Pacific; US-China relations; and the Middle East with specific reference to events in Syria.
  • Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum: CSS Regional Security Fellow, Paul Sinclair, attended the second Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum held in Kuala Lumpur on 3 October. This 18 strong forum's membership replicates the membership of the East Asian Summit and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Plus forum. Subjects discussed included Priorities for ASEAN Dialogue Partners in Promoting Maritime Cooperation; Freedom of Navigation and Military Activities in Exclusive Economic Zones, and Future Work for this Forum. Sinclair's attendance was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Asian Security Fund.
  • Roderic Alley, Senior Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies, has published the Centre's 14th Discussion Paper: The Drone Debate: Sudden Bullet or Slow Boomerang? Please contact for more information.
  • Centre for Strategic Studies' Regional Security Fellow, Paul Sinclair, has released the Centre's 13th Discussion Paper: Tensions on the Korean Peninsula: Implications for New Zealand. Please contact for more information.