Security Cooperation in the Pacific Islands

Introduction to the project

Australian Army

Australian Army Corporal Charley Gledhill from Joint Task Group 637.3 assists members from the Royal Solomon Island Police Force in planning a patrol route during a multi-agency policing patrol at the Port of Honiara, Solomon Islands on 15 December 2021. 

In the 2018 Boe Declaration on Regional Security, Pacific Islands Forum leaders recognised that the Pacific Islands region is facing ‘an increasingly complex regional security environment driven by multifaceted security challenges’. This raises the question of how Pacific Island states and territories will respond to these wide-ranging, but frequently interconnected, challenges, and what role security cooperation can play.

With funding from an Australian Department of Defence Strategic Policy Grant, since 2020 an international team of researchers led by the Stretton Institute Security Policy in the Indo-Pacific research program director Professor Joanne Wallis has been analysing the various cooperative security agreements, arrangements, and institutions between and among states and territories in the Pacific Islands region, and their partners. 

The aim of the project is to identify how Pacific security cooperation could be best orientated to address current and future regional security challenges.

Mapping Security Cooperation in the Pacific Islands

The first major project output is a policy paper titled Mapping Security Cooperation in the Pacific Islands. This paper identified and mapped the various cooperative security agreements, arrangements, and institutions between and among states and territories in the Pacific Islands region, and their partners.

This policy paper was accompanied by an animated map.

Members of the project team shared the map and research findings in an opinion piece about regional security cooperation. 

The Dynamics of Security Cooperation in the Pacific Islands

The second major project output is a policy paper titled Security Cooperation in the Pacific: Workshop Report

This paper is based on an online workshop held online on 18 and 19 November 2021 to better understand security cooperation between partner states; between Pacific Island countries themselves, and their citizens; and between partners, Pacific Island countries and their citizens. 

Speakers came from a range of PICs and partner states, including Australia, China, Fiji, Japan, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and the United States. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat also attended part of the workshop as an observer.

Based on papers presented at the workshop we are now editing a book. More information regarding publication, including dates, will be provided here as it comes available.  

Members of the project team also analysed what the January 2022 Tongan tsunami revealed about regional security cooperation in an opinion piece.

Most recently, members of the team have proposed that more track 1.5 dialogues be organised between Australians, other partners states, and their Pacific counterparts to widen and deepen knowledge and ongoing relationships.

Throughout the project members of the team have providing briefings on the project to stakeholders engaged in security cooperation in the Pacific, including Australian and New Zealand government agencies and the Pacific Islands Forumz.

Defence Officials

Defence officials from Japan, USA, UK, Fiji, New Zealand, France, and Australia gather to mark the creation of the International Coordination Centre at Headquarters Joint Operations Command for the coordinated provision humanitarian assistance and disaster relief supplies, equipment, and capabilities to Tonga. Photo: Australian Department of Defence.

International dialogue

In December 2022, we will convene a dialogue of participants from Pacific Island countries and their partners, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, France, and China, to discuss the dynamics of security cooperation on the Pacific Islands and formulate proposals for how cooperation may best be orientated to address current and future regional security challenges.

The project team

Acknowledgement

This activity was supported by the Australian Government through a grant by the Australian Department of Defence. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Australian Government or the Australian Department of Defence.