Workshop: “The South Pacific: From ‘arc of instability’ to ‘arc of opportunity’?”

The South Pacific: From ‘arc of instability’ to ‘arc of opportunity’? Is it time for Australia to shift its priorities from security to development in the South Pacific?

08:45am – 05:45pm, 08 February 2013
The Common Room, University House, Liversidge Street, ANU
Registration is required (please contact Dr Joanne Wallis).

By April 2013 the Australian stabilisation mission in Timor-Leste will withdraw, and in 2013 the small military component of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands will return home, while its other components scale-back (although an Australian policing and governance presence will remain in the medium-term). In 2012 Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste held relatively peaceful elections, and both appear to have formed fairly stable governments. The performance of the Solomon Islands government has improved, and the Vanuatu government functions quite well. In 2012 the military regime that has been in place in Fiji since their 2006 coup confirmed that elections will be held in 2014, and created a Constitutional Commission to make a new constitution. Therefore, it is timely to reflect on progress and prospects in the South Pacific.

A group of Australian and Pacific experts have contributed short articles to a special volume of Security Challenges on the ‘Security in the Pacific arc’, due for publication in December 2012 (available from: http://www.securitychallenges.org.au/). These contributions provide updates on progress being made in relation to the security challenges facing key states in the region, and consider the prospects for the region’s future security and stability.

This workshop will discuss the contributions to the special volume of Security Challenges. It will also gather and compare perspectives from Australian and Pacific scholars concerning the changing nature of the challenges and opportunities facing the region in order to answer the question: Is it time for Australia to shift its priorities from security to development in the South Pacific? The workshop will conclude with a reception in the Common Room at University House from 5.45 – 7.00pm.

Participants include:

  • Mr Jone Baledrokadroka, former colonel with 26 years of service in the Fiji military who recently completed PhD studies at SSGM, ANU.
  • Emeritus Professor Paul Dibb, former head of SDSC at the ANU, former Deputy Secretary in the Australian Department of Defence and former Director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation.
  • Dr Sinclair Dinnen, Senior Fellow, SSGM, ANU.
  • Mr Graeme Dobell, Journalist Fellow with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and Radio Australia’s Associate Editor for the Asia Pacific.
  • Mr Tony Hiriasia, Masters student at the University of the South Pacific.
  • Professor Brij Lal, Acting Director, CHL, ANU.
  • Ms Sarah Logan, a PhD student in International Relations (IPS) at the ANU.
  • Dr Jack Maebuta, Lecturer in Education at the University of the South Pacific, Solomon Islands Campus and Honorary Associate, School of Humanities, UNE.
  • Dr Ron May, Emeritus Fellow of the ANU and Senior Associate, SSGM, ANU.
  • Ms Siobhan McDonnell, a PhD student in CHL, ANU.
  • Mr Vergil Narokobi, Legal Counsel at Ombudsman Commission and a PhD student at Victoria University of Wellington.
  • Mr Greg Nimbtik, a Masters student at Massey University.
  • Dr Gordon Peake, Visiting Fellow, SSGM, ANU.
  • Ms Carol Pitisopa, from the World Bank in Solomon Islands.
  • Ms Serena Sasingian, Executive Director, The Voice Inc. (PNG).
  • Dr Patrick Vakaoti, Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work at the University of Otago.
  • Dr Joanne Wallis, Lecturer, SDSC at the ANU, where she also convenes the Asia-Pacific Security program.

This workshop is presented by the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) and the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program (SSGM) at the ANU with support from the Research School of Asia and the Pacific (RSAP) and the Kokoda Foundation.

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