Complex Emergencies and Politial Instability in Asia

(CEPSA) - Exploring the causes and dynamics of complex emergencies


Our goal

The program on Complex Emergencies and Political Stability in Asia (CEPSA) explores the confluence of insecurities that impact vulnerability in Asia and potential strategies for response. In doing so, the program investigates the following questions: What are the diverse forces that contribute to climate-related disaster vulnerability and complex emergencies in Asia? What are the implications of such events for local and regional security? How can investments in preparedness, supported by international donors, minimize impacts and build resilience? CEPSA explores the impacts and potential responses related to climate-related hazards in Southern and Southeast Asia.

Where we focus
What are we trying to answer?
Our methods
Core research areas

Our Research Team

Including experts from a range of fields including disaster vulnerability and response, conflict assessment, complex emergencies, and Asian politics:

Joshua Busby

is the program’s principal investigator and leads the program’s Disaster Vulnerability project. This project is developing a disaster vulnerability model for Asia, which identifies the subnational locations in Southern and Southeast Asia that are most vulnerable to climate-related hazards, defined in terms of the potential for large-scale loss of life.

Jennifer Bussell

leads the program’s National Disaster Preparedness project. This project assesses how government decisions to invest in disaster preparedness are impacted by a range of factors, including exposure to previous disasters, economic strength, electoral incentives, bureaucratic capacity, and the influence of the international community.

Paula Newberg

leads the program’s Governance Implications of Complex Emergencies project. This project explores how climate and environmental factors have affected states’ capacity to handle political and economic development, how the structure of governance has evolved to cope with emergencies, and how these governance dimensions contribute to the evolution of a natural hazards into a complex emergency.

Mike Findley and Kate Weaver

lead the program’s International Aid to Mitigate Disasters and Complex Emergencies project. This project assesses whether international aid for both disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) and disaster and humanitarian response is targeting areas of highest need and enhancing domestic efforts to build capacity in these areas.

Ashley Moran and Josh Powell

lead the program’s Complex Emergencies Dashboard project. This project is designing an open access, online platform to leverage data and models produced by the program, combined with geospatial analytics designed in coordination with U.S. military and policy agencies, to provide a framework for diagnosing, analyzing, and responding to complex emergencies in Asia.

Clionadh Raleigh

leads the program’s Conflict and Complex Emergencies project. This project tracks conflict events and actors in real-time through an extension of the Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset to high-risk Asian states. This project investigates how varied insecurities impact conflict patterns and, in turn, how conflict contributes to the development of complex emergencies.

Why Research?

Understanding how different insecurities coalesce to impact vulnerability in Asia—and assessing when and how these insecurities can develop into complex emergencies—has strong implications for U.S. national and international security. Major displacements or unequal distribution of costs from cyclones, tsunamis, and flooding—all on the rise in parts of Asia—can potentially lead to civil unrest and, in some cases, develop into complex emergencies.

By mapping varied regional insecurities, this program seeks to identify: the areas of chronic concern where U.S. and foreign military assets may be directed for humanitarian relief or conflict containment; the areas at risk of complex emergencies; the potential climate-related vulnerability of bases, allies, and potential adversaries; and areas where destabilization might empower extremist groups. By producing the most accurate, real-time, disaggregated, geo-referenced data on Asian political violence and its agents, program research allows for comparable assessments of conflict across states using highly curated data on which to base policy, humanitarian, and security decisions.

By identifying factors that impact national capacity to build resilience, as well as the response capacity of international actors on the ground, program research seeks to support policy planning at national and international levels to potentially diminish the impact of future events. Dynamic mapping and analytical tools in development will leverage program research to provide integrated assessments of risks and potential intervention points, facilitating diagnosis, analysis, and responses related to complex emergencies.