Letter from the Directors

Dear friends and colleagues,

2021, a year of continued Covid-19 pandemic, closed borders, and uncertainty. The challenges highlighted by the pandemic, such as Sino-U.S. tension, over-reliance on globalization, and growth of nationalism combined with multiplier threats connected to climate change, have prompted new international dynamics.

During this year, instability and conflicts have erupted in many areas of ISDP’s expertise. Major shifts on the Korean Peninsula have led to arms build-up between North and South Korea and the region. In East Asia, international relations have been colored by continued U.S.-China rivalry. These tensions have been illustrated by the creation of the trilateral military alliance, AUKUS. In Chinese domestic politic dissident crackdown continued in areas such as Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Moreover, tension between PRC and Taiwan remains, as does ISDP’s focus on Cross-Strait relations.

In Central Asia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan remain on the road to reform. Regional cooperation initiatives created greater communications between regional states. However, the positive regionalization trend was challenged by the fallout of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which prompted Turkish and Japanese involvement.
In the South Caucasus, new dynamics have been established after the Armenia and Azerbaijani war in 2020. Further, Turkey cemented new relations with Azerbaijan, which prompted Iran to hold large military exercises near their shared border. The increased tension and internal instability might create a fundamental shift in the region’s dynamics.

In all these areas, the need for solid analysis, in-depth discussion and dialogue is apparent. ISDP has continued to bridge the gap between academia and policymakers by providing up-to-date analysis and a forum for discussion and debate.


Niklas Swanström &
Svante E. Cornell