French colonialism and “shared sovereignty” in the Pacific

Event details

SSGM Seminar

Date & time

Tuesday 19 June 2018


Hedley Bull Theatre 1, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU Canberra
ANU Canberra


Nic Maclellan


Hannah McMahon

New Caledonia and French Polynesia joined the Pacific Islands Forum as full members in 2016, and Wallis and Futuna is currently seeking to upgrade its membership from observer status. The presence of non-self-governing territories in an organisation of independent and sovereign nations poses new challenges for Pacific regionalism. The French state has been promoting the concept of “shared sovereignty” with governments in its three Pacific dependencies, but what does this mean at a time France is seeking to entrench its colonial presence in the Pacific?

Following the recent visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Australia and New Caledonia, journalist and researcher Nic Maclellan will discuss the concept of shared sovereignty and its implications for Pacific regionalism.

The seminar will outline problems facing Forum member countries arising from France’s ongoing control of its three dependencies, including uncertainty over legal standing in the Forum; the capacity to sign treaties; policy making on security in the Forum; policy issues on fisheries and climate in other member agencies of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific; relations with other Forum dialogue partners; resource exploitation by the colonial power; and disputes over maritime boundaries.


Nic Maclellan is a correspondent with Islands Business magazine (Fiji). He is co-author of two books on French colonialism in the Pacific: La France dans le Pacifique – de Bougainville à Moruroa (Editions La Découverte, Paris), and After Moruroa – France in the South Pacific (Ocean Press, New York and Melbourne). His latest book Grappling with the Bomb – a history of British nuclear testing in the Pacific – is published by ANU Press.

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