State of the Pacific 2018: Biketawa Plus What? The Future of Regional Security Cooperation in the Pacific

The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was conducted under the auspices of the Pacific Islands Forum’s Biketawa Declaration, agreed in 2000. According to the PIF, the Biketawa Declaration ‘outlines guiding principles for good governance and courses of action for a regional response to crises in the region’. Following the conclusion of RAMSI in mid-2017, Pacific leaders asked the question: where do we go now on regional security cooperation? In turn, this raised questions such as: what lessons have we learned from RAMSI? What does ‘security’ mean in a Pacific islands context and how should regional cooperation in the area of security develop and evolve? These issues (given the shorthand of ‘Biketawa Plus’) were expected to figure prominently on the agenda of the annual PIF summit in Nauru in September 2018. Meanwhile, Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper, issued in November 2017, declared an ambition ‘to integrate Pacific countries into … our security institutions’; a new Australia Pacific Security College was announced in the White Paper although the details of this initiative remain sketchy. What is the future of security cooperation in the Pacific Islands in an era of strategic flux in the region? Can Australia maintain its self-declared role as “the natural partner of choice” for Pacific Island countries?

Chair: James Batley, Distinguished Policy Fellow, Department of Pacific Affairs, ANU

Speakers: Stewart Firth, Fellow, Department of Pacific Affairs, ANU

Steven Ratuva, Director, Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies & Professor, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Canterbury

Sandra Tarte, Head of the School of Government, Development and International Affairs, USP

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