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IR Working Paper 2004/3 (PDF, 112KB)
Greg Fry, ‘Whose Oceania? Contending Visions of Community in Pacific Region-Building’, IR Working Paper 2004/3, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific and Asian Affairs, The Australian National University, October 2004.
In the past year the ‘war against terror’ and perceptions of state failure within the post-colonial Pacific have sparked an Australian-led initiative to deepen and widen regional integration in Oceania. This paper argues that behind the seeming unanimity of the 2004 Auckland Declaration and agreement by Pacific Islands Forum leaders on a ‘Pacific vision’ and a ‘Pacific plan’ are several contending visions of regional community, and of community-building. The political and moral legitimacy of each vision depends significantly on how these visions answer the question of who is Oceania for, and who has the right to speak for it? The seemingly dominant vision (that of the Australian government) is problematic in this regard. Past practice of Pacific region-building suggests that it may therefore not receive the legitimacy it requires for sustainability. This therefore is in danger of producing an unintended consequence: the replication at a regional level of the legitimacy problem associated with the so-called failing state.