The Asian Studies program was established during the 8th World Congress of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) held in Edinburgh in 1976, for the purpose of promoting Asian Studies for IPSA and to encourage political scientists in Asian and Pacific countries to join the world arena of political science. The 1979 Moscow World Congress of IPSA initiated a panel session on Asian Studies, which thus formally recognized the Committee on Asian Studies.

The first International Round Table Conference on Asian Studies was held in Chicago in 1978, chaired by Teh-Kuang Chang; paper-givers included Robert Scalapino of the University of California, Frantz Michael of George Washington University, and numerous other scholars from different countries.

The second Asian Studies International Round Table Conference was held in Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, in 1980. UNESCO lent its support to this conference to enable political scientists from Asia to report on the development of political science in each country. The President of the Chinese Political Science Association, Han Lih-wu, gave an account of the progress of political science in China.

In 1991, the IPSA World Congress held in Buenos Aires recognized the elevation and expansion of the Committee on Asian Studies as the Research Committee on Asian and Pacific Studies.

This Committee is listed as RC18; it consistently organizes sessions at each World Congress of IPSA, and holds international round table conferences, in broad-ranging locales such as in Rio de Janeiro and Washington, D.C. The result of the RC18's efforts has helped to increase membership of Asian and Pacific scholars in the IPSA; and this, in turn, has stimulated the growth of programs of Asian and Pacific studies at the IPSA World Congresses.