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The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) hosted a Foreign Policy Round Table titled ‘The Asian Arms Race, Geopolitics and Possible Implications for Sri Lanka’ on 11 March 2019. This round table supported by The Asia Foundation featured Admiral (Retd.) Travis Sinniah, former Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy; Dr. Harinda Vidanage, Director of Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS); and Malinda Meegoda, Research Associate at LKI.
Between 2007 and 2017, Asia’s share of global military expenditure rose from 17% to 25%, as the region’s major powers amassed increasingly sophisticated arsenals of both nuclear and conventional weapons. Admiral Sinniah pointed out the worrying trend of nuclear weapons states retreating from arms control and non-proliferation treaties, and the consequent effects such actions could have on the global normative nuclear order.
Dr. Harinda Vidanage argued that regional militarisation could lead to several negative political outcomes including the deferment of diplomacy, and the ability for smaller states like Sri Lanka to maintain its policies of neutrality and non-alignment. Adding to the discussion, Mr. Malinda Meegoda also called for optimising defence budgets with long term strategic plans, and integrating research institutes, think tanks and education systems into the local capabilities.
The discussion was moderated by LKI’s Executive Director Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja. Participants include Mr. Ravinatha Aryasinha, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, government officials, military officials, private sector representatives, and diplomats.
Photos: Fluke by Ruvin