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Oceanic Diplomacy: An Introduction
When practitioners and scholars think of diplomacy in the Pacific context they usually have in mind the diplomacy of the post-independent Pacific Island states or the diplomacy of larger powers with interests in the region. Both of these understandings refer to a form of diplomacy built on Western practices and protocols and focused on the engagement between modern sovereign states.
What the authors are attempting to bring to the fore in this In Brief, and the research project which it introduces, is a third understanding of diplomacy in the Pacific region which we are calling ‘Oceanic diplomacy’. It refers to the distinctive diplomatic practices and principles which come out of the long history and diverse cultures of the Pacific Islands. These longstanding traditional systems are still important in the conduct of relations among tribes and clans within the postcolonial states of the Pacific. These principles, practices and protocols work alongside Western diplomatic practices in the performance of modern diplomacy by Pacific Island states and are sometimes employed in the region’s diplomatic approaches to the global arena. The purpose of the authors, is to explore the value and significance of these practices in modern contexts within the state, between Pacific Island states, and in Pacific diplomacy in the global arena.