Current Research

Disaster Management in the Asia-Pacific

University of California, Berkeley

Effective disaster management in the Asia-Pacific is becoming a critical issue as the region encounters increasingly frequent and unpredictable natural disasters. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), over half of the 226 natural disasters that occurred during 2014 took place in this region, impacting close to 79.6 million people. In 2005, the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) formed the Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG) to improve regional disaster management and build a more resilient community. However, since then APEC’s disaster-related initiatives, including the most recent “new collaborative platform” introduced in November 2015, omitted considerations of various crucial challenges such as the problem of an uncoordinated bureaucracy, the lack of medical doctors involved, and the absence of gender perspective. This project aims to address these three major shortcomings for which the current disaster management community fails to account.

With a generous grant from the Japan Foundation’s Center for Global Partnership, this April we will hold a multi-disciplinary conference to strategize about ways to strengthen the current disaster management framework. Specifically, we plan to initiate discussions on how improve institutional coordination, increase stakeholder participation with an emphasis on medical personnel, and promote gender equality. We anticipate producing a conference paper for dissemination among participating institutions as well as an online database detailing various stakeholders involved in the region’s disaster management framework.

To prepare for the conference, PI Aggarwal had a fruitful meeting with APEC Secretariat Executive Director Alan Bollard, APEC representative to the EPWG Diego Garcia Gonzalez, and PECC Secretary General Eduardo Pedroso in January 2016 in Singapore, all of whom expressed interest in working with our research team. In order to include a more robust discussion of the medical challenges and requirements of disaster relief, our center also established a collaborative relationship with personnel from the University of California San Diego Medical School. As of now, we have invited leading political scientists, economists, emergency medicine doctors, and NGOs and IOs officials from both the Asia-Pacific and the United States to contribute to the discussion. Our long-term aim is to build a network of scholars, practitioners, and policymakers across the Asia-Pacific region to study existing trans-regional agreements and how different institutions can and should address disaster management in the future. Following our meeting in Berkeley, we will seek multi-year institutional funding from foundations for a follow-up meeting in Tokyo.

Sponsored by the Center for Global Partnership, Japan Foundation

Shaping a New Political-Economic Order in the Asia Pacific? The TPP, RCEP, and AIIB

University of California, Berkeley



In October 2015, twelve countries in Asia and the Americas concluded the TPP. Yet the agreement has yet to be ratified. Given a highly partisan election year in the U.S., the TPP has become a hotly contested agreement. For outsiders, such as Taiwan, India, or Korea, the question of how to become a member of an eventually ratified TPP looms large. The other significant trade agreement being negotiated in the Asia-Pacific region is RCEP, consisting of 16 countries known as the ASEAN+6. This grouping brings together the ten member states of ASEAN and six of its major regional economic partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand). It still remains to be seen how this agreement will look in terms of institutional characteristics and also how non-members such as Taiwan and the US might join. Finally, a different but related development is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which was a Chinese-led initiative. Here, the question of membership also looms large with countries such as the U.S., Japan, and Taiwan not party to the bank.


Our one-day conference will examine a number of critical dimensions with respect to these institutional developments, including the following questions:


– How will outsiders be able to join various agreements and if they cannot join, how can they benefit from the accords?

– What are the implications of these arrangements for the WTO?

– What are the broader political and security implications of the rise of new initiatives in challenging the American-created post-WW II order?


The participants will include scholars and practitioners from the SF Bay Area as well as from countries in the Asia-Pacific.

Sponsored by TECO San Francisco and IEAS

ICT, Data Localization and Corporate Governance in the 21st Century

University of California, Berkeley

The challenges facing companies in the 21st century are significantly different to those faced in the past due in large part to changing technologies in commerce in general and the rise of the Internet as a tool of trade, specifically. Indeed, the Internet has allowed for instantaneous communication for business processes, changed relationships with consumers, and has altered the character of products as services for companies. As Internet technologies change, however, companies must adjust to this changing reality amid a number of other political transformations. This project, put simply, addresses how, why, and where companies face challenges related to information communication technology in the wake of broader geopolitical and economic challenges posed by the rise of China and Russia, the shift from globalism to regionalism (specifically in Asia) made evident by the negotiations of Mega-FTAs, and the diverging responses to the global financial crisis of 2008.

Specifically, we consider how the proposed fragmentation of the contemporary global Internet governance architecture, in particular, will have consequences for states, end users, and businesses around the world as they deal with the challenges posited above. For example, how will the geopolitical and security provision in East Asia shift with the closure of the Chinese network while TPP and RCEP are completed for U.S. allies like Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea? Will these countries find themselves increasingly isolated in the region as a result of the growing role of intergovernmentalism in the regulation of international regulation?

As the technocratic, multi-stakeholder governance model runs its course, we expect new governance mechanisms defined by the aforementioned intergovernmental agreements to replace it. Already, the WCIT meetings in Dubai in 2012 and the ITU Plenipotentiary Meeting in 2014 have made clear the tenuous nature of the current framework given concerns over electronic surveillance, privacy, and protection of intellectual property among states that have previously been marginalized in nascent governance processes.

In the following, we propose a three-part study investigating the effect of the aforementioned fragmentation on businesses in North America, Europe, and Asia, in particular. Specifically, we are interested in the question of how intergovernmental agreements might change the nature of the Internet as a platform for doing business, how data localization for companies and their customers will change, and on what basis these changes will be internalized by companies via their respective corporate governance mechanisms both within and across regions of the world. Below, we break down the three aspects of the study to be discussed and analyzed in three separate conferences.

Part 1: The History and Present of Global Internet Governance

Part 2: Contemporary Challenges in Data Localization

Part 3: Best Practices in Corporate Governance


Sponsored by the Center for Long-term Cybersecurity, Berkeley.