An expanded, empowered Pacific Islands Forum could lock in Pacific security | RNZ News
By Anna Powles and Joanne Wallis *
Opinion – Amid global political turbulence, the Pacific is a region whose influence is sought by the world’s powers. Regional coordination is as important as ever.
Last week, leaders and representatives of countries belonging to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) met for the annual summit, which US vice president spoke at via video link.
Regional security in the Pacific Islands is in flux, with change fuelled by a trio of dominant drivers.
As global economic powerhouses China and the US renew their interest in the region, monitoring the important drivers offers key insights into the future of the Pacific.
Security as a shared regional concern
The first driver involves rethinking how security is defined.
Pacific Islands Forum leaders committed in 2018 to cooperate more on regional security in the Boe Declaration on Regional Security. The declaration defines security broadly, covering human security, environmental and resource security, transnational crime, and cybersecurity. But the breadth of issues that fall within this definition of security makes it difficult to translate into concrete policy. Underpinning it all is climate change, “the single greatest threat … to the peoples of the Pacific”.
* Anna Powles is a senior lecturer in the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at Massey University. Joanne Wallis is a professor of international security in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Adelaide.
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