Volume V of the Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post–Cold War Operations explores the Australian government’s efforts to support peace in the Pacific Islands from 1980 to 2006. After this period of intervention there has been peace, but will it continue without policy enhancements or even a change of direction? The 2014 visit to Fiji by Chinese President Xi Jinping confirmed growing Chinese strategic intentions in the Pacific Islands. The imminent referendum in New Caledonia in November 2018, planned referendum in Bougainville in 2019, continuing internal law and order challenges in PNG, the fragility of the Solomon Islands polity, the impact of climate change on micro-states in the region and the increasing presence of Chinese commercial interests and government-sponsored development programs suggest that lessons from 1980 to 2006 may need to be applied sooner rather than later. Rather than being first responders to crises, what might Australia and its regional neighbours do to prevent conflict in the Pacific Islands? Considering this background, Associate Professor Breen discusses the history of Australia’s support of peace in the Pacific Islands since 1980. He draws lessons which point the way towards new policy and programming tools for early action in response to emerging risks of conflict and instability in the region. The emphasis is on conflict prevention, conflict resolution (negotiation, mediation, conciliation as well as formal or informal and official or unofficial interventions) and peacebuilding before and after conflict.
About the Speaker
Bob Breen is Associate Professor of Strategic Studies and Director of Deakin University’s PhD by Folio and Publication Program