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The ASEAN Regional Forum's experts and Eminent Persons Group: achievements, limitations, prospects.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum has introduced the Experts and Eminent Persons system as a security affairs-related epistemic community in Asia Pacific. However, its performance has remained rather stagnant. This article assesses its performance by examining achievements and limitations of the system and identifies barriers to its effective functioning. The findings attribute its dismal performance to skewed composition and poor quality of membership, lack of depth and diversity of expertise and knowledge, absence of knowledge sharing or diffusion function, and negligible policy impact. The article suggests ways to improve the performance of the ARF-EEPs, and concludes by offering theoretical, empirical, and policy implications. Keywords: ARE, ARF-EEPs, epistemic community, confidence-building measures, preventive diplomacy, conflict resolution.

SINCE THE DISSOLUTION OF THE SOVIET UNION AND SUBSEQUENT COLLAPSE of the Cold War, the Asia Pacific security landscape has undergone radical changes. Whereas relics of the Cold War embodied in traditional security concerns linger, new forms of nontraditional security challenges such as maritime disputes, transnational terrorism and crime, environmental disasters, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have emerged as salient issues. The Asia Pacific region is thus facing bifrontal challenges, involving both traditional and nontraditional security concerns.

Scholars and experts on Asian security have been struggling to find ways to cope with the challenges. Some realist pundits attribute the worsening security dilemma among Asian major powers to a lack of regional collective solutions and prescribe an appropriate check and balance among powers as the only viable solution. (1) Meanwhile, another group of Asia Pacific experts views the source of the problem as the failure to forge common interests and institutionalize cooperation. For them, solutions lie in the expansion of economic interdependence, democracy, and intergovernmental organizations. (2) Others stress the importance of a set of norms--such as noninterference and the respect for the dignities of enemies and of international law--and claim that the prospect for stability and peace in Asia will significantly improve if the norms become effective in the region. (3)

Recently, however, ideas and knowledge at both individual and group levels have drawn growing scholarly attention. Its proponents argue that ideas and knowledge mediated by epistemic communities can play a pivotal role in fostering regional cooperation and integration. (4) Epistemic communities here refer to a "knowledge-based network of specialists who share beliefs in cause-and-effect relations and underlying principled values." (5) Such shared beliefs and values can serve as a useful tool for socializing policymakers to adopt and diffuse policies that promote cooperation and integration. (6)

The epistemic communities' central role in fostering interstate policy coordination and cooperation has been widely recognized in Asia Pacific. Diane Stone's work, for instance, highlighted that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ASEANISIS) has formed a network of think tanks and played an influential role in institutionalizing meetings with the ASEAN Senior Official Meeting (SOM), thereby contributing to actual policymaking at the ASEAN level. (7) Leonard Seabrooke and Eleni Tsingou showed that groups of financial reform experts such as the Financial Stability Forum (FSF 2008), the Group of Thirty (G-30), and the Warwick Commission have contributed significantly to shaping financial regulatory policy since the financial crisis of 2008-2009. (8) Kanishka Jayasuriya's and Helen E. S. Nesadurai's investigation into the Executives' Meeting of East Asia Pacific (EMEAP) regulators and central bankers demonstrated that these policy networks played a key role in fostering Asian countries' cooperation in regional financial surveillance. (9) Peter Drysdale also notes that the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Eminent Persons Group, an epistemic community working for APEC, facilitated a process of negotiated liberalization among APEC members. (10) Ralph Emmers, Beth Greener-Barcham, and Nicholas Thomas also have shown that the Ad-hoc High-level Experts Group on Immigration Matters has effectively pressed the ASEAN to tackle the human trafficking problem. (11) Desmond Ball, Anthony Milner, and Brendan Taylor contend that the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (CSCAP) led the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to build a consensus on confidence-and security-building measures in the region. (12)

Inspired by such successful experiences of epistemic communities and policy networks in fostering interstate policy coordination, the ASEAN Regional Forum created the Experts and Eminent Persons (ARF-EEPs) system as a security affairs-related epistemic community in Asia Pacific. By creating the ARF-EEPs, the ARF leadership specifically aimed to generate innovative ideas and knowledge on cooperative security in the region. Although incomplete, the ARF-EEPs helped develop innovative ideas such as confidence-building measures (CBMs), preventive diplomacy (PD), and peaceful resolution of conflicts. However, its overall performance has still been stagnant. The EEPs-generated knowledge and ideas on cooperative security have often been poorly informed with its limited national and regional diffusion. Even worse, they have had little impact on the ARF policymakers.

In this article, we look into why the performance of the ARF-EEPs has been so dismal and aim to suggest alternatives to improve it. First, we offer an analytical framework for understanding epistemic communities and evaluating their performances. Then, we present a brief historical overview of the ARF-EEPs. Next, we make an overall assessment of the ARF-EEPs' performance by examining membership composition and quality, depth and diversity of expertise, knowledge sharing and diffusion, and the degree of policy impact. Finally, we suggest ways to improve performance of the ARF-EEPs system. We conclude by offering theoretical, empirical, and policy implications.

Understanding and Evaluating Epistemic Communities: An Analytical Framework

While striving to mitigate traditional security problems such as heightened power competition and interstate military disputes, the world is also facing new forms of security challenges such as maritime disputes, terrorism, organized crime, environmental degradation, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The growing uncertainties and complexities of these problems have made global governance and international policy coordination all the more important. Thus, scholars of international relations have looked into conditions in which proper global governance and international policy coordination can be implemented to solve these problems.

In their definitive study of the United Nations, Thomas G. Weiss and Ramesh Thakur examined the UN's potential for global governance. According to Weiss and Thakur, the UN has made determined efforts to improve its capability to govern global problems, but the efforts have faltered because of five governance gaps: (1) knowledge gaps over the nature, causes, gravity, and magnitude of a problem; (2) normative gaps guiding appropriate responses to a problem; (3) policy gaps in terms of who the relevant policymakers are and how international policy is made and implemented; (4) institutional gaps implying mismatches between policy and institutional resources; and (5) compliance gaps relating to weak mechanisms to identify defectors from agreed-on commitments. (13) Although not quite satisfactory, Weiss and Thakur argue, the three UNs--that is, the UN as a collective body, UN secretariats, and civil society--have been filling these gaps slowly, but steadily. (14)

Drawing on a concept of epistemic communities, Peter M. Haas paid more explicit attention to the roles of "knowledge" and "ideas" in the development of global governance and of interstate policy coordination. According to him, an "epistemic community" is "a network of professionals with recognized expertise and competence in a particular domain and an authoritative claim to policy-relevant knowledge within the domain." (15) The communities are seen as playing a pivotal role in prompting global governance and interstate policy coordination because they help policymakers, who are unfamiliar with technical uncertainties and complexities of problems of common concern, to understand the causes and effects of the problems and develop viable solutions. (16)

A growing body of literature on epistemic communities has identified the conditions in which the communities' performances may be assessed. First, membership quality and composition of the communities matter. Community members should be "experts" who have shared beliefs in cause-and-effect relations, principled values, and common policy goals. (17) The community members should also be "eminent." The prestige and reputation that the members enjoy both at home and abroad are crucial because they allow the members to authorize their activities. (18) Emmanuel Adler's study of Paul Nitze, G. John Ikenberry's work on John Maynard Keynes and Harry D. White, and Seabrooke and Tsingou's analysis of Andrew Haldane and Avinash Persaud show clearly that the members' eminency was essential for authorizing their activities. (19) The expertise and eminency that the members carry often depend on their capability to undertake independent research. In this regard, institutional backing from research bodies seems important. Adler demonstrates that the successful performance of US arms control epistemic communities was heavily indebted to institutional backing from the RAND Corporation. (20) Stone also asserts that the think tanks within the framework of the ASEAN-ISIS provided their researchers with considerable institutional support for generating discourses of multilateral security cooperation. (21)

Second, epistemic communities' performances are influenced by depth and diversity of expertise and knowledge that the communities' members hold within a particular issue area. According to William J. Drake and Kalypso Nicolaidis, trade-related epistemic communities that encouraged policymakers to promote trade in services were not only armed with in-depth and scientifically objective expertise in trade affairs but were also more intellectually and professionally diverse than the traditional trade policy profession. (22) Seabrooke and Tsingou's work highlighted that the varied and distinctive reform ideas generated by financial expert communities were crucial in guiding the development of financial reform proposals since the 2007-2009 financial crisis. (23) Narrowing the focus to Asia Pacific, Hadi Soesastro also notes that the analytically deep and diverse policy expertise of the regulatory network--that is, the EMEAP's regulators and central bankers--caused the rise of regional financial governance. (24)

Third, knowledge diffusion is another important indicator in measuring performance of epistemic communities. Members' institutional ties--both formal and informal networks--are of particular importance in this regard because, once established, they provide members with an institutional structure in which to compare information and to disseminate the ideas and beliefs they produce. (25) Mely Caballero-Anthony's recent work on the ASEAN, for example, shows that a number of policy networks in Asia Pacific drew on ASEAN's "betweenness" to build a tight policy network and to circulate their ideas of building a regional architecture like the East Asian Summit (EAS). (26) Stone also stresses that the ASEAN-ISIS successfully diffused its idea of economic and security cooperation through the establishment of formal networks at conferences and workshops. (27)

Finally, the communities' satisfactory performance depends on their ability to influence policy choice and coordination. (28) There are two major methods for the communities to influence policymakers. One is the role of brokers in transmitting new ideas and knowledge into decisionmaking circles and encouraging them to adopt policies in tandem with those ideas and knowledge. According to Nesadurai, financial reform networks in Asia Pacific served as brokers who circulated the idea of "economic surveillance" and persuaded their policymakers to tighten policy coordination on regional financial governance. (29) The second method is by community members transmitting their ideas into policy communities through transnational channels. Stone's work on the ASEAN-ISIS showed that the ISIS network used ASEAN as a transnational forum in which they pushed its member states into the adoption of the idea of a security regime. (30)

In short, performance of epistemic communities depends on: (1) the quality and composition of membership; (2) the depth and diversity of expertise and knowledge; (3) the ability to diffuse the knowledge they generate; and (4) the resulting policy impact. In the following section, we assess the performance of the ARF-EEPs utilizing the four indicators identified above.

The ARF and the ARF-EEPs: Historical Origin and Development

The Twenty-sixth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the Post Ministerial Conference, which were held in Singapore on 23-25 July 1993, agreed to establish the ARF. The inaugural meeting of the ARF was held in Bangkok on 25 July 1994. In the meeting, the ARF officially defined its role as an "effective consultative Asia-Pacific Forum for promoting open dialogue on political and security cooperation in the region." (31) In this context, ASEAN was expected to work with its ARF partners to bring about a more predictable and constructive pattern of relations in Asia Pacific.

From its outset, the ARF has made determined efforts to foster multilateral and bilateral dialogues and consultations based on a three-stage evolutionary approach moving from CBMs to PD and, in the long term, toward a conflict resolution capability. The assumption was that such an approach would help create an atmosphere conducive to cooperative security in Asia Pacific and facilitate tension reduction. (32) Stable relationships in the region are thus owed in part to the ARF's concerted efforts.

Despite its achievements, however, some weaknesses underlying the ARF have been widely noticed. A major drawback is that the ARF has not developed a more complete range of peace enforcement steps. (33) Adhering to a rigid procedural norm, namely consensus rule, the ARF has failed to create a mechanism through which to compel its participants to comply with the decisions it makes. This is why it often has been accused of being a "talk shop." (34) At the same time, the ARF has been rather vague on how to move from CBMs to PD to concrete cooperation because it has discussed little on how to elicit cooperative security through a nuanced application of CBMs and PD. (35) Relative ignorance of new forms of challenge and threat, such as terrorism and crime, environmental disasters, and proliferation of WMD, has been pointed out as another weakness. (36)

It was in this context that the ARF decided to create the ARF-EEPs system. The ARF leadership realized that growing uncertainties arising from policy interdependence over the issues of both traditional and non-traditional security warrant special attention. (37) Yet such uncertainties will not be overcome effectively by the ARF's Track 1 diplomacy or its Track 2 diplomacy. The former has often failed to forge policy consensus among ASEAN members, whereas the latter has had little impact on policy communities. (38) Therefore, the ARF created the ARF-EEPs system as a Track 1.5 epistemic community whose focus is on security affairs in Asia Pacific. The ARF-EEPs system fits well with Adler and Haas's criteria of epistemic communities. The system was created as "a network of experts and eminent persons with recognized expertise and competence in a security domain." (39) The system also was expected to "play a pivotal role in prompting interstate policy coordination with respect to formative work on "confidence building measures," the "development of preventive diplomacy," and the "elaboration of approaches to conflicts in the region." (40) The ARF leadership, which was unfamiliar with the uncertainties and complexities of security problems in the region, also believed that the ARF-EEPs, based on their normative and principled belief of "common security," might be able to provide authoritative views on the causes and effects of the problems and to offer innovative solutions to those problems. (41)

The blueprint for the ARF-EEPs system dates back to the seventh ARF SOM in May 2000, during which the ARF members agreed to proceed with collating nominations of experts and eminent persons. In the following year, South Korea provided a boost to EEPs' development by codrafting the Terms of Reference (TOR) for ARF-EEPs with Malaysia and proposed the Guidelines for the Operation of the ARF-EEPs. (42) The eighth ARF ministerial meeting in July 2001 adopted the TOR, which clarified the terms of EEPs' nomination, contents of the register and its management, scope and procedures for activities of EEPs, and financial rules. (43) Based on the TOR, the ARF also adopted the guidelines that provide details on the procedures for activities and meetings of the EEPs. (44)

The ARF leadership's expectations on the role of the ARF-EEPs were relatively clear from its inception. First is the function of "knowledge generation." As security specialists, EEPs are obliged to provide nonbinding and professional views to the ARF participants when they are requested to undertake in-depth studies of the issues of relevance to their expertise. (45) Second is the function of "knowledge sharing and diffusion." Knowledge that EEPs generate is a collective good, which should be widely shared by all ARF participants. (46) Third is the function of "policy-recommendation." By providing fresh and nonconventional ideas, the EEPs were assumed to help ARF members revamp their approaches to security affairs, thereby increasing the likelihood of interstate policy coordination in the affairs. (47)

The ARF-EEPs have held nine rounds of meetings and proposed a wide range of policy recommendations on security affairs. Several meetings are of particular note. At the third meeting in Beijing, 13-15 November 2008, the ARF-EEPs identified CBMs as a practical solution to emerging crises in Asia Pacific. (48) The fourth round in Bali, 14-15 December 2009, offered a clear-cut definition of structural preventive diplomacy (SPD) and emphasized the need to identify areas in which the diplomacy could be undertaken. (49) The seventh meeting in Honolulu, 9-10 May 2013, pushed the ARF to continue to move on PD, building on the ARF PD Work Plan. (50) The eighth round held in Kuala Lumpur, 17-18 February 2014, acknowledged the numerous preventive diplomacy measures already undertaken in the region. (51) The ninth round in Helsinki, 12-13 March 2015, suggested establishing a working group to implement the ARF Vision Statement. (52)

Assessing the Performance of the ARF-EEPs: Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths and Achievements

The ARF-EEPs system has made a number of efforts to promote multilateral security cooperation in Asia Pacific. Those include: (1) encouraging regional dialogue and cooperation in the settlement of military disputes in the region; (2) conceptualizing CBMs and PD in the Asian context and introducing them to the ARF leadership; (3) identifying areas where PD can be undertaken; (4) suggesting a code of conduct in the South China Sea dispute; (5) evoking a need to promote interactions between the ARF, East Asian Summit, and ASEAN Defense Minister's Meeting (ADMM); (6) pushing forward PD based on the Work Plan; and (7) recognizing numerous PD measures in the region and calling for further institutionalization of the meetings between the ARF-EEPs and ARF SOM. (53)

These efforts have led to various concrete action plans such as the development of regional preventive diplomacy training resources, the creation of a manual on preventive diplomacy, the establishment of a factfinding mission in the East China Sea, and the application of CBMs and PD in Asia Pacific. Moreover, the system's efforts have perpetrated negotiations on the code of conduct in the South China Sea, promotion of the consultation between China and Japan over the East China Sea dispute, and utilization of the ARF-EEPs as an early warning system.

Some current EEPs also note these contributions. Frank Wilson, a longtime serving EEP from New Zealand, claims that "at every EEP meeting since 2000, EEPs have given advice and suggestions as to how the ARF can move toward Preventive Diplomacy (PD)." (54) Barry Desker, a current EEP from Singapore, also points out that "the ARF-EEPs system was useful for an exchange of views and has allowed EEPs to discuss issues of relevance to the ARF." (55) According to Ralph Cossa, a US EEP, "the EEPs system has helped to shine the light on the need for more movement in the area of Preventive Diplomacy (PD) and provided a useful list of steps the ARF should take in this direction." (56) Jawhar Hassan, a Malaysian EEP, evaluates that "the ARF EEP system has fostered a lively Track 1.5 community through the institutionalization of annual meetings to support the ARF in all the relevant areas." (57)

Taken together, the ARF-EEPs have helped the ARF encourage regional dialogue and cooperation in the peaceful management of disputes; promote the interactions between the ARF and other regional security organizations; and ensure that the cooperative mechanisms represented by CBMs and PD are effective, flexible, and mutually responsive to the major security challenges that the ARF has faced.

Weaknesses and Challenges Ahead

Despite the ARF-EEPs' notable achievements, scholars and practitioners in Asian security have pointed out a number of weaknesses or problems underlying the current ARF-EEPs system and claimed that the system is short of becoming a genuine security-related epistemic community. We examine these issues one by one.

Membership composition and quality. The immediate problem in the ARF-EEPs system is found in the composition and quality of EEP membership. An epistemic community should consist of professionals and experts who have a shared set of causal and principled beliefs, nonconventional ideas and knowledge, and a common policy enterprise on the issues of common concern. (58) They also need to carry some prestige and reputation drawn from their ideas, knowledge, and policy enterprise to legitimize their activities. (59) Leading epistemic community members, such as Keynes, White, Nitze, Haldane, and Persaud, fit these criteria well.

In reality, however, the ARF-EEPs do not seem to satisfy such criteria. This is primarily because many ARF members continue to send former or serving governmental officials who sometimes lack nonconventional and innovative views on security affairs. Of eighty-four registered EEPs, forty-six (55 percent) are former governmental officials while fourteen (17 percent) are serving officials. In total, sixty EEPs (72 percent) are either retired or serving officials. Only twenty-four EEPs (28 percent) are the so-called nongovernmental experts or professionals with recognized competence in security affairs. (60) Former or serving governmental officials often undermine the effectiveness of the ARF-EEPs because some of them constantly attempt to articulate their governments' official views on sensitive security issues. (61) The best example of this is Chinese and Japanese EEPs' reluctance to adopt the proposal to conduct a fact-finding mission on the issue of the East China Sea. Such rigid stances have made the ARF-EEPs less capable of generating innovative ideas on the issues. (62)

Several reform-minded EEPs have noticed this problem. For example, Wilson argues that too many EEPs are serving governmental officials who are not able to represent nonofficial thinking and have therefore undermined the integrity of EEPs' Track 1.5 diplomacy. (63) Hassan also charges that many ARF participants hamper the usefulness of the EEP system by appointing governmental officials as EEPs. (64) In a related vein, Wilson points out that the ARF-EEPs system is devoid of eminent persons who have prestige and political influence. (65)

Another concern in the EEPs' membership composition and quality is that there are large numbers of EEPs who no longer have institutional backing at home. The innovative ideas and knowledge from epistemic communities are often attributable to institutional support that members of the communities receive from research institutes. Yet there has been a serious disconnect between many ARF-EEPs and the institutes. Exactly fifty-two (62 percent) out of eighty-four registered EEPs have no affiliation with proper research units such as a government-supported research body, think tanks, and universities, while only thirty-two EEPs (38 percent) have such research units behind them. (66) The lack of institutional backing not only has made the EEPs less capable of undertaking in-depth studies on security affairs, but also has led them to be poorly informed and out of touch with the latest developments on the affairs. In addition, it has increased the propensity of the EEPs to work for their own interests. (67)

Depth and diversity of expertise and knowledge. Another weakness of the ARF-EEPs is the lack of depth and diversity of their expertise and knowledge. Outstanding expertise on the issues of common concern is vital to the success of epistemic communities. (68) Input from diverse intellectual backgrounds is another essential element contributing to the success. (69) As noted above, however, an overwhelming majority of the ARF-EEPs are current or retired governmental officials who have an inherent weakness in generating thoughtful cause-and-effect analyses. The EEPs also have been overrepre-sented by the so-called traditional security experts who are less eligible to deal with nonconventional security challenges.

For instance, seventy-two (85.7 percent) out of eighty-four EEPs are experts in conventional security issues such as military doctrines, force deployments, defense procurement, and arms control. Only twelve (14.3 percent) are classified as specialists in nontraditional security issues. (70) Of these, there are three EEPs for maritime disputes (Sam Bateman and Ivan Sheara from Australia, Gao Zhiguo from China). Two EEPs (Alan Dupont from Australia and B. Raman from India) have expertise in transnational terrorism. There are also only two EEPs (Dan Xuan Khang from Vietnam and Khieu Sopheak from Cambodia) who specialize in police-related issues. No EEPs have expertise in environmental issues and nonproliferation of WMD. Likewise, current EEP members' expertise appears limited in scope.

Such narrowly based expertise of EEPs has made it difficult for the ARF-EEPs system to set nonconventional security-related agendas. Conventional security issues have always remained the primary concern in past meetings. (71) No single meeting since 2006 has discussed the causes and consequences of and possible solutions to nonconventional security problems.

Knowledge sharing and diffusion. The EEPs' role in sharing and diffusing knowledge has also been quite limited. This is largely due to an absence of intersessional contacts, formal and informal networks, and institutional ties among and between EEPs. Frequent contacts and dense networks among EEP members as well as outreach to the public and media are essential to the successful performance of EEPs. Such contacts, networks, and institutional ties not only provide EEPs with a valuable institutional structure through which to compare information and to find moral support for their beliefs, but also strengthen the commitments to the values they share. (72) Equally important is that, to be legitimized, new ideas and knowledge generated by EEPs should be shared with the wider public.

However, the ARF-EEPs system has been devoid of such personal and institutional ties. It has long suffered from porous horizontal networks as well as poor vertical coordination and institutional ties. Neither a secretariat nor a network hub has been created. As a group that meets only once a year and has no life between meetings, the ARF-EEPs lack a forum in which they can discuss major issues in an open-ended manner and generate consensual knowledge based on their causal beliefs and normative commitments. (73) Accordingly, the innovative ideas and knowledge that the EEPs produce have tended to remain confined to a single research group.

It is also important to realize that the ARF-EEPs system has been less effective in diffusing the knowledge it generates. For epistemic communities to elicit policy innovation, they must diffuse their policy advice at both domestic and international levels. (74) The ARF-EEPs, however, have made no serious efforts to circulate the knowledge or ideas that they produce. There have been no conferences, roundtables, or policy debates that go beyond the EEPs' meetings. No mass media exposure and public outreach have been undertaken to date. Accordingly, the publics in ARF member countries and even their government officials are poorly informed about the role of the EEPs. What is more disappointing is that scholars, students, and journalists in the field of security affairs are relatively unaware of the existence of the ARF-EEPs, needless to say their activities and knowledge thereof.

Policy impact. A more fundamental problem underlying the current ARF-EEPs system is the negligible impact of EEPs-generated recommendations on policymakers in the ARF. For the epistemic community-generated ideas and knowledge to have an impact on policymakers, its members should transform them into policy recommendations and transmit them to the policymakers through formal and informal channels. (75)

The epistemic community may gain access to policymakers in two ways. First, the EEPs can serve as "brokers" for admitting new ideas and knowledge into decisionmaking circles of bureaucrats and elected officials. (76) For example, they can open doors at high levels, gain access to national leaders, and persuade the leaders to embrace the ideas and knowledge they produce. (77) Second, they can also transmit their ideas and knowledge into policy circles through transnational channels by making relevant policy circles receptive to their ideas and knowledge. (78)

The EEPs, however, have shied away from such practices for several reasons. First, the relative absence of novel ideas has prevented EEPs from serving as brokers for admitting innovative ideas into the ARF members. The majority of EEPs have been either former or current officials, which tend to duplicate their governmental thinking. Consequently, they are not qualified to be carriers of innovative knowledge and ideas. Even many nongovernmental EEPs are not eminent in a sense that they have lacked the prestige and reputation to ensure access to government officials. (79)

Another problem is that the communication channels between the ARF leadership and ARF-EEPs have been weak and poorly institutionalized. From the outset, the ARF-EEPs system has had a limited mandate; it is to act "when requested" by the ARF leadership. (80) Although the ARF Secretariat is supposed to transmit EEPs' recommendations to its leadership, they rarely reach the leadership or a wider audience. Simply put, suggestions by the EEPs concerning CBMs and PD have not been seriously considered by the ARF leadership. (81) A yearly rotation of the ARF leadership, which is also overloaded with other agenda items, has posed a major barrier to its attention to EEPs-generated knowledge and ideas as well as to the cultivation of dense working relationships and formal feedback mechanisms with the EEPs. (82) Equally critical are the absence of a secretariat, the lack of human and financial resources, and the lack of any mechanism and channels for wider communication, which is typical of the ARF itself.

Enhancing the Performance of the ARF-EEPs

The current ARF-EEPs system has exhibited such a number of weaknesses and flaws that it cannot be considered an effective epistemic community in the areas of security in Asia Pacific. How can it be improved? We examine each of the four above-mentioned clusters.

As noted earlier, the current practice of recruiting the EEPs and the composition and quality of existing EEPs appear inadequate, so policymakers in the ARF have been reluctant to ask for policy recommendations from them. Former and current governmental officials, which may be representative of their own governmental thinking, have pervaded the EEP system. The nongovernmental experts and eminent persons who can gain access to current high government officials using their prestige and political influence are relatively few. Many EEPs also no longer have institutional backing for their research and, as a result, suffer from the lack of expertise and eminency.

For the EEPs to function properly as an epistemic community, therefore, it is required that the ARF revamp the current selection process for EEPs. Too heavy recruiting of former and current governmental officials should be avoided. They have already contributed their expertise in Track 1 institutions where they have rightly belonged. If they continue to make inroads into the EEPs system, the distinctive roles of EEPs in providing nonconventional and innovative advice to the ARF leadership will be significantly compromised. (83)

The ARF also needs to introduce more eminent persons into the ARF-EEPs. They may have political influence as well as prestige, which can be highly valued at both domestic and international levels. Eminent persons of this stature will play a crucial role in opening doors at high levels, gaining access to national leaders and to the ARF leadership and providing advice that would not be easily dismissed by the ARF member states.

The practice of appointing individuals who no longer receive institutional backing from research units or academic institutions should be discouraged. The Terms of Reference for the ARF-EEPs specifically states, "EEPs are requested to undertake in-depth studies and research or serve as resource persons in ARF meetings on issues of relevance to their expertise." (84) However, if the EEPs are disconnected from research units or academic institutions, their capabilities to undertake the studies and to serve as resource persons will be limited. Therefore, ensuring the dispatch of the EEPs who have a research unit behind them is highly recommended.

To improve the depth of EEPs' expertise and knowledge, more professionals and experts with recognized expertise and competence in the security area, not former or current governmental officials, should be admitted to the ARF-EEPs. These new EEPs should be armed with shared causal beliefs as well as normative principles on cooperative security, along with common policy enterprise. By replacing current governmental officials with new EEPs, the ARF can substantially increase the depth of expertise and knowledge they hold in the affairs.

As a way of increasing diversity in EEPs' expertise and knowledge, the ARF should pay renewed attention to nonconventional security issues such as maritime disputes, transnational terrorism and crime, environmental disasters, and proliferation of WMD. The current ARF-EEPs system has paid asymmetric attention to hard and conventional security issues, notably CBMs and PD. Excessive attention to the issues, however, has significantly compromised EEPs' diversity in expertise and knowledge. Thus, it is time for the ARF to promote an influx of fresh EEPs who have expertise and competence in nonconventional security issues. Professionals and experts specialized in maritime disputes, transnational terrorism and crimes, environmental degradation, and proliferation of WMD should be the new EEPs candidates.

The ARF-EEPs system has long suffered from the lack of knowledge sharing and diffusion function. The systemic knowledge of CBMs and PD that ARF-EEPs meetings produced has rarely been diffused nationally, regionally, and globally. Ideas and knowledge would be sterile without carriers. (85) To strengthen the knowledge diffusion function, several measures need to be adopted. EEPs should make an effort to circulate their knowledge and ideas through conferences, journals, and collaborative research. This kind of knowledge dissemination may be further facilitated through the creation of an independent secretariat for the ARF-EEPs within the ARF Unit. The creation of a secretariat, in particular, seems essential for institutionalizing horizontal networks among the ARF-EEPs. The secretariat, once created, will play a critical role in facilitating ongoing discussions among EEPs and serve as a repository of documents generated by the ARF-EEPs.

The ARF may strengthen the ARF-EEPs' knowledge sharing and diffusing function by helping equip EEPs with website facilities. EEPs can list their research findings, op-ed columns, and even blog on the Web and allow public access to it. The ARF-EEPs system could launch a policy working paper series on confidence building, preventive diplomacy, conflict resolution, and the issues of nontraditional security affairs. The establishment of EEPs-held public lecture series across the ARF member states is another idea. Suppose preventive diplomacy is the ARF's top agenda! The ARF leadership should mandate EEPs to engage in public campaigns on the virtue of preventive diplomacy and ARF's achievements in that area not only at home, but also throughout the region.

We suggest three possible solutions to maximize policy impact of the ARF-EEPs-generated knowledge and recommendations on decisionmaking circles. First, the ARF needs to recruit more eminent EEPs who have both expertise and prestige into the ARF-EEPs system. Eminent EEPs, compared to ordinary experts, are more capable of establishing formal and informal direct channels with the ARF policymakers. Built on the channels, eminent EEPs can easily persuade the ARF leadership to formulate policy based on EEPs' recommendations.

Second, the feedback mechanism between the ARF and the ARF-EEPs needs to be further institutionalized, which is equivalent to creating an institutional home in which EEPs present their policy recommendations on the issues of common concern and the ARF leadership gives prompt feedback. Given the rotating nature of the ARF chair as well as the ARF-EEPs chair every year, it would be well worth establishing an ARF-EEPs office under the ARF Unit of the ASEAN Secretariat. (86) The office backed by greater Secretariat services might allow the ARF to develop a tighter decisionmaking structure with written procedures and rules by which the ARF-EEPs may be fully integrated into the ARF system.

The institutionalization of feedback mechanisms will also help strengthen the legitimacy of the CBMs and PD initiative. The ARF-EEPs have painstakingly identified the initiative as a major step toward the peaceful resolution of conflict in the Asia Pacific region. After all, the EEPs' recommendations to the ARF on these two major issues have been "specific" and considered "useful." (87) However, some major powers, notably China and Japan, have remained skeptical in the applications of the initiative to such sensitive issues as the South and East China Sea disputes. (88) Through the institutionalization of feedback mechanisms, therefore, the ARF and the ARF-EEPs can be more capable of holding the powers accountable for resolving the disputes in tandem with the initiative.

Finally, the ARF leadership and members need to take recommendations generated by EEPs seriously. The Terms of Reference for ARF-EEPs specifically states, "Their services will be required only when they are requested to undertake in-depth studies and research or serve as resource persons in ARF meetings on issues of relevance to their expertise." (89) The initiative is therefore with the ARF, but the ARF has not requested much of the ARF-EEPs. It is time for the ARF leadership and members to fully exploit the potential of the ARF-EEPs system through full-fledged reform.


We have presented a comprehensive assessment of the performance of a flagship epistemic community in the Asia Pacific region; that is, the ARF-EEPs system. The system has made several significant contributions: providing professional recommendations on CBM and PD; providing an exchange of diverse views on regional stability; building a group of informed observers with access to the foreign ministries of the ARF members; and promoting interactions between the ARF and other regional institutions. However, performance of the ARF-EEPs system has been substantially limited. It has suffered from a skewed composition and relatively poor quality of membership, lack of depth and diversity of expertise and knowledge, absence of effective knowledge sharing and diffusion, and negligible policy impacts.

We have suggested several ways to improve its performance. The ARF-EEPs system needs to revamp the current selection process of EEPs partly by phasing out governmental officials who no longer have institutional backing and partly by recruiting eminent persons with political clout and reputation. Depth and diversity of EEPs' expertise and knowledge also need to be further improved by allowing the injection of a new breed of experts. At the same time, the ARF-EEPs system should strengthen its knowledge-sharing function by increasing intersessional contacts and creating an independent secretariat and Web facility. To increase the policy impact of recommendations generated by ARF-EEPs, their role as knowledge brokers needs to be renewed by institutionalizing a feedback mechanism between the ARF leadership and the ARF-EEPs.

Our study has produced some interesting theoretical, empirical, and policy implications. It has renewed scholarly attention to the concept of the epistemic community by applying it to the case of the ARF-EEPs. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt ever made in this area. Equally important is that our study has developed a new framework for evaluating the performance of epistemic communities by examining such variables as membership composition and quality, depth and diversity of the communities' expertise, the communities' ability to share and diffuse knowledge, and their capacity to have policy impact. Although the framework is presented by synthesizing key insights from existing literature, it offers a useful analytical tool for evaluating the performance of epistemic communities elsewhere.

We have also made important empirical contributions toward understanding of the ARF-EEPs by analyzing their detailed profiles based on raw data such as the ARF-EEPs Registry as well as in-depth interviews with key incumbent EEPs. We believe that the data on the distribution of EEPs by professional background, institutional affiliation, and areas of expertise are particularly useful in assessing EEPs' performance. However, it should be noted that our study would have been much improved if we had looked into the change in the EEPs' composition between 2006 (the first year of EEPs Registry) and the present.

Finally, our study's policy implications are rich and relevant. We found that, despite its relatively weak performances, the ARF-EEPs system has had a profound impact on the discourses and policy outcomes of the ARF, as evidenced by the adoption of ideas on CBMs and PD. So, the ARF leadership needs to further utilize the ARF-EEPs by improving their personal and institutional quality and by establishing a thick feedback mechanism. The ARF-EEPs have the full potential to serve as key providers of innovative ideas and knowledge on security affairs to the ARF if the steps we suggest are taken seriously.


Chung-In Moon is professor in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at Yonsei University; Chaewkang You is senior researcher in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Chung-Ang University. The authors thank the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Research Foundation of Korea (Grant no.2016SlA3A2924409) for their research support.

(1.) John J. Mearsheimer, Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: Norton, 2001), pp. 372-377; Aaron Friedberg, A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia (New York: Norton, 2011), pp. 1-9.

(2.) Bruce Russet and John O'Neal, Triangulating Peace: Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organization (New York: Norton, 2001), pp. 281-288; Benjamin E. Goldsmith, "A Liberal Peace in Asia?" Journal of Peace Research 44, no. 1 (2007): 5-27.

(3.) Stein Tonnesson, "What Is It that Best Explains the East Asian Peace Since 1979? A Call for Research Agenda," Asian Perspectives 33, no. 1 (2009): 111-136. See also Timo Kivimaki, The Long Peace of East Asia (Burlington: Ashgate, 2014), pp. 31-40.

(4.) Paul Evans, "Between Regionalism and Regionalism: Policy Networks and the Nascent East Asian Institutional Identity," in T. J. Pempel, eds., Remapping East Asia: The Construction of a Region (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005), pp. 195-215.

(5.) Peter M. Haas, "Introduction: Epistemic Communities and International Policy Coordination," International Organization 46, no. 1 (1992): 3.

(6.) On the successful role of epistemic communities in promoting global cooperation and integration, see G. John Ikenberry, "A World Restored: Expert Consensus and the Anglo-American Postwar Settlement," International Organization 46, no. 1 (1992): 290-291; Peter M. Haas, "Banning Chlorofluorocarbons: Epistemic Community Efforts to Protect Stratospheric Ozone," International Organization 46, no. 1 (1992): 189-196; Emanuel Adler, "Seeds of Peaceful Change: The OSCE's Security Community-building Model," in Emanuel Adler and Michael Barnett, eds., Security Communities (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1998), pp. 138-139.

(7.) Diane Stone, "The ASEAN-ISIS Network: Interpretive Communities, Informal Diplomacy and Discourses of Region," Minerva, no. 49 (2011): 246-254.

(8.) Leonard Seabrooke and Eleni Tsingou, "Distinctions, Affiliations, and Professional Knowledge in Financial Reform Expert Groups," Journal of European Public Policy 21, no. 3 (2014): 399-404.

(9.) Kanishka Jayasuriya, "Regulatory Regionalism in the Asia-Pacific: Drivers, Instruments and Actors," Australian Journal of International Affairs 63, no. 3 (2009): 340-344. See also Helen E. S. Nesadurai, "Economic Surveillance as a New Mode of Regional Governance: Contested Knowledge and the Politics of Risk Management in East Asian," Australian Journal of International Affairs 63, no. 3 (2009): 369-372.

(10.) Peter Drysdale, "Open Regionalism, APEC and China's International Trade Strategy," in Peter Drysdale, Zhang Yunling, Ligang Song, eds., APEC and Liberalization of the Chinese Economy (Canberra: ANU Press, 2012), p. 17.

(11.) Ralph Emmers, Beth Greener-Barcham and Nicholas Thomas, "Institutional Arrangements to Counter Human Trafficking in the Asia Pacific," Contemporary Southeast Asia 38, no. 3 (2006): 496-497.

(12.) Desmond Ball, Anthony Milner, and Brendan Taylor, "Tract 2 Security Dialogue in the Asia-Pacific: Reflections and Future Direction," Asian Security 2, no. 3 (2006): 180.

(13.) Thomas G. Weiss and Ramesh Thakur, Global Governance and the UN: An Unfinished Journey (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010), pp. 1-26.

(14.) Ibid., pp. 50-51.

(15.) Haas, "Introduction," p. 3.

(16.) Ibid., p. 1.

(17.) Ibid., p. 3.

(18.) Barbara Johnson, "Technocrats and the Management of International Fisheries," International Organization 29, no. 3 (1975): 747.

(19.) G. John Ikenberry, "A World Restored: Expert Consensus and the Anglo-American Postwar Settlement," International Organization 46, no. 1 (1992): 291; Leonard Seabrooke and Eleni Tsingou, "Distinctions, Affiliations, and Professional Knowledge in Financial Reform Expert Groups," pp. 401-402.

(20.) Emmanuel Adler, "The Emergence of Cooperation: National Epistemic Communities and the International Evolution of the Idea of Nuclear Arms Control," International Organization 46, no. 1 (1992): 130-131.

(21.) Stone, "The ASEAN-ISIS Network," p. 251.

(22.) William J. Drake and Kalypso Nicolaidis, "Ideas, Interests, and Institutionalization: 'Trade in Services' and the Uruguay Round," International Organization 46, no. 1 (1992): 40.

(23.) Seabrooke and Tsingou, "Distinctions, Affiliations, and Professional Knowledge in Financial Reform Expert Groups," pp. 389-390.

(24.) Hadi Soesastro, "Regional Integration in East Asia: Achievements and Future Prospects," Asian Economic Policy Review 1, no. 2 (2006): 221.

(25.) Haas, "Introduction," p. 20.

(26.) Mely Caballero-Anthony, "Understanding ASEAN's Centrality: Bases and Prospects in an Evolving Regional Architecture," Pacific Review 27, no. 4 (2014): 573-574.

(27.) Stone, "The ASEAN-ISIS Network," p. 242.

(28.) Haas, "Introduction," p. 16.

(29.) Nesadurai, "Economic Surveillance as a New Model of Regional Governance," pp. 369-370.

(30.) Stone, "The ASEAN-ISIS Network," pp. 401-402.

(31.) For the details on the role of the ASEAN Regional Forum, see

(32.) Barry Desker, "ARF's Past, Present, and Future," paper presented at the first Plenary Meeting of the Experts and Eminent Persons, Jeju Island, Republic of Korea, June 2006, p. 2.

(33.) John Garofano, "Power, Institutions, and the ASEAN Regional Forum: A Security Community for Asia?" Asian Survey 42, no. 3 (May-June 2002): 515.

(34.) Desker, "ARF's Past, Present, and Future," p. 3.

(35.) Ralph A. Cossa, "The ASEAN Regional Forum: Pathways to Progress--The Road Ahead," twenty-second Asia Pacific Roundtable Paper, Kuala Lumpur, June 2008, pp. 3-4.

(36.) Desker, "ARF's Past, Present, and Future," p. 3.

(37.) Mohamed Jawhar Hassan, "Security Environment in Southeast Asia," paper presented at the first Plenary Meeting of the Experts and Eminent Persons, Jeju Island, Republic of Korea, June 2006, p. 8.

(38.) Garofano, "Power, Institutions, and the ASEAN Regional Forum," p. 516. Regarding the limited impact of CSCAP on the ARF member states, see Yeo Lay Hwee, "ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)/Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (CSCAP)," paper presented at the Berlin Conference on Asian Security, Berlin, September 2006, p. 5.

(39.) ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), "Guidelines for the Operation of the ARF-EEPs," pp. 1-2.

(40.) ARF Senior Officials Meeting, "Co-Chairs' Paper on the Terms of References for the ARF Experts/Eminent Persons (EEPs)," Ha Noi, May 2001, pp. 1-2.

(41.) "Guidelines for the Operation of the ARF-EEPs," p. 1.

(42.) Documentation on the seventh ARF-EEPs Meetings (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea), Seoul, 31 December 2013, p. 3.

(43.) "Co-Chairs' Paper on the Terms of References for the ARF Experts/Eminent Persons (EEPs)," pp. 1-5.

(44.) "Guidelines for the Operation of the ARF-EEPs," pp. 1-3.

(45.) Ibid., p. 1.

(46.) "Co-Chairs' Paper on the Terms of References for the ARF Experts/Eminent Persons (EEPs)," p. 2.

(47.) "Guidelines for the Operation of the ARF-EEPs," p. 1.

(48.) "Co-Chairs' Summary of the Third Meeting of the ARF EEP," Beijing, November 2008, pp. 1-2.

(49.) "Co-Chairs' Summary of the Fourth Meeting of the ARF EEP," Bali, Indonesia, December 2009, pp. 2-3.

(50.) "Co-Chairs' Summary of the Seventh Meeting of the ARF EEP," Honolulu, May 2013, p. 1.

(51.) "Co-Chairs' Summary of the Eighth Meeting of the ARF EEP," Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 2014, p. 7.

(52.) "Co-Chairs' Summary of the Ninth Meeting of the ARF EEP," Helsinki, March 2015, p. 9.

(53.) Ibid., pp. 1-2.

(54.) Frank Wilson, longtime EEP from New Zealand, personal communication with the author, 18 June 2014, p. 1.

(55.) Barry Desker, EEP from Singapore, personal communication with the author, 19 June 2014, p. 1.

(56.) Ralph Cossa, US EEP, personal communication with the author, 4 July 2014, p. 1.

(57.) Jawhar Hassan, Malaysian EEP, personal communication with the author, 4 July 2014, p. 2.

(58.) Haas, "Introduction," p. 3; Haas, "Banning Chlorofluorocarbons," p. 187.

(59.) Johnson, "Technocrats and the Management of International Fisheries," p. 747.

(60.) Number and percentage of ARF-EEPs according to their professional backgrounds are calculated by authors based on ARF Register of Experts/Eminent Persons (EEPs).

(61.) Paul Evans, Canada EEP, personal communication with the author, 19 June 2014, p. 1.

(62.) Hassan personal communication, p. 1; Wilson personal communication, p. 2.

(63.) Wilson personal communication, p. 2.

(64.) Hassan personal communication, p. 2.

(65.) Wilson personal communication, p. 2.

(66.) Number and percentage of ARF-EEPs who have (or have no) institutional support are calculated by the authors based on the ARF Register of Experts/Eminent Persons (EEPs).

(67.) Hassan personal communication, p. 3.

(68.) Haas, "Banning Chlorofluorocarbons," p. 187.

(69.) Drake and Nicola'idis, "Ideas, Interests, and Institutionalization," p. 39.

(70.) Number and percentage of ARF-EEPs according to their expertise are calculated by the authors based on the ARF Register of Experts/Eminent Persons (EEPs).

(71.) Hassan personal communication, p. 3.

(72.) Haas, "Introduction," p. 20.

(73.) Wilson personal communication, p. 1.

(74.) Adler and Haas, "Conclusion," p. 378.

(75.) Peter M. Haas, "Do Regimes Matter? Epistemic Communities and Mediterranean Pollution Control," International Organization 43, no. 3 (1989): 380.

(76.) Haas, "Introduction," p. 31.

(77.) Adler, "The Emergence of Cooperation," p. 114.

(78.) Haas, "Do Regimes Matter?" p. 385.

(79.) Wilson personal communication, p. 2.

(80.) "Guidelines for the Operation of the ARF-EEPs," p. 1.

(81.) Evans personal communication, p. 1.

(82.) Desker personal communication, p. 1.

(83.) Ibid., p. 1; Hassan personal communication, p. 2; Wilson personal communication, p. 2.

(84.) "Co-Chair Paper on the Terms of Reference for the ARF Experts and Eminent Persons (EEPs)," p. 2.

(85.) Adler and Haas, "Conclusion," p. 378.

(86.) Wilson personal communication, p. 5.

(87.) Cossa personal communication, p. 1; Hassan personal communication, p. 1; Wilson personal communication, p. 1.

(88.) Hassan personal communication, p. 1; Desker personal communication, p. 1.

(89.) "Co-Chairs' Paper on the Terms of Reference for the ARF Experts/Eminent Persons (EEPs)," p. 1.
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Title Annotation:Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Author:Moon, Chung-In; You, Chae-Kwang
Publication:Global Governance
Geographic Code:90SOU
Date:Jul 1, 2017
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