How does the ‘Pacific’ fit into the ‘Indo-Pacific’? What are the implications of the changing geopolitics of the Pacific Islands for the region and Australia? Does the ‘Blue Pacific’ concept have the potential to advance Pacific Islands’ regional cooperation in pursuit of their interests?
In June 2019, speakers from Australia, New Zealand and across the Pacific Islands convened at a workshop at the ANU to consider these questions. The workshop constituted a valuable, but unusually rare, opportunity to bring together scholars and practitioners working, on the one hand, on Australia’s strategy and defence and, on the other hand, on the interests of the Pacific Islands.
The discussions revealed that Australians, New Zealanders and Pacific Islanders are concerned about the implications of the changing geopolitics of the region, but that they do not always share the same perspective. This special issue of Security Challenges contains transcripts of the keynote speeches by Collin Beck, Permanent Secretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, and Ewen McDonald, Head of the Office of the Pacific in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and articles and comments by leading comments and academics based on presentations at the workshop.
With the impact of Covid 19 highlighting the interdependent nature of Australia and Pacific Island states’ security, this special issue constitutes important reading for everyone interested in the region. As Beck observed in his concluding remarks at the workshop, the Pacific Islands ‘can’t divorce’ Australia and New Zealand, as they are permanent neighbours, ‘connected at the hip by geography’.
Read Joanne Wallis and James Batley’s paper here.