Think Tank (2/2024)
Minister Chan Chun Sing (front row, middle) with Dean Kumar Ramakrishna, CENS, and participants of APPSNO 2024
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Defining the State of Security in Uncertain Conditions
15 Apr 2024

National security practitioners and experts participated in the 2024 Asia-Pacific Programme for Senior National Security Officers (APPSNO). They discussed the theme of “Defining the State of Security in Uncertain Conditions: Lessons and Responses” at the programme held from 15 to 19 April 2024. It was organised by the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS).


APPSNO 2024 focused on the increasingly amorphous global landscape for middle powers, further complicated by local ripple effects from international conflicts, the promises and perils of emerging technologies, and the unpredictability of extreme climate events. Against this backdrop, panels focused on emerging national security risks in relation to energy, economics and trade, supply chains, technology and digitalisation, social resilience, and the information domain.


International and domestic speakers were invited to shed light on the theme with their insights and experiences. National security practitioners and experts gathered to explore and foster dialogue. Participants from 21 countries across the Asia Pacific, South Asia, Middle East, North and South America, and Europe, were joined by their Singaporean counterparts from various ministries and agencies.


Minister for Education and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, Mr Chan Chun Sing, opened the programme, discussing the risks posed by an increasingly contested and fragmented geopolitical environment. He emphasised the need to overcome these challenges, also noting that there may be new opportunities for cooperation should these challenges be well anticipated and managed.


Among a line-up of prominent speakers, the programme featured an opening keynote lecture by Dr Kevjn Lim, Principal Research Analyst (MENA) at S&P Global Market Intelligence, who spoke on “Navigating Uncertainty in a Multifront Conflict”. Speaking on geopolitical uncertainty in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks, Dr Lim discussed the role of deterrence in national security, and the prospect of a broader regional war.


In addition to engaging with the speaker-led discussions, participants also gave presentations on national case studies in homeland security management, providing perspectives on the national security policies and unique challenges faced in their own individual contexts.


For the first time in APPSNO’s history, the event featured a scenario-based Tabletop Exercise, led and designed by CENS in collaboration with Dr Miguel Gomez, Senior Research Fellow with the Centre on Asia and Globalisation. On the last day, each group of participants was invited to present their discussions and proposed policy recommendations, as well as provide constructive feedback on each other’s findings.


On the final day of APPSNO 2024, Dr Hisham Hellyer of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, United Kingdom; delivered a closing keynote lecture titled “A Rules-Based Order – But Rules for Whom?”. Dr Hellyer discussed the weakening credibility of a rules-based order led by a single superpower, and the likely alternatives to this rules-based order as middle powers increasingly seek their own arrangements in response to interconnected global crises.


The programme concluded with a certificate presentation ceremony and closing dinner hosted by Executive Deputy Chairman of RSIS, Ambassador Ong Keng Yong. Once again, there was consensus among the participants that APPSNO provided a conducive platform for networking with national security counterparts, and enabled thought-provoking conversations.

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