A major workshop was held in the ANU’s College of Asia & the Pacific on 8 February 2013 to challenge the highly influential (although controversial) characterisation of the region as an ‘arc of instability’.
There was broad agreement amoung presenters at the workshop that although challenges remain, it is time to focus on the region’s resilience and potential – to see it not as an ‘arc of instability’ but rather, as an ‘arc of opportunity’. You may download a copy of the conference program online. You may also also read full-text versions of those papers presented at the workshop that were published in a recent special issue of Security Challenges: Security in the Pacific Arc (Summer 2013). Dr Joanne Wallis, one of the conference convenors, has also written a summary of the workshop for The Strategist, the blog of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
Several videos related to this event are now available on ANU’s Youtube Channel.*
Conference Convenors Dr Joanne Wallis and Dr Sinclair Dinnen, together with Dr Gordon Peake, discuss the workshop in a video produced a few days after the event. The videos listed below feature presentations during workshop panels on 8 February 2013.
In the first panel, a range of experts outline and examine various Australian perspectives on the South Pacific. Dr Stewart Firth (ANU) looks at some of the questionable assumptions tempering Australian perspectives on the Pacific. Emeritus Professor Paul Dibb re-examines his famous ‘arc of instability’ concept, as well as the importance of an inner arc to Australian defence policy. Mr Graeme Dobell (ASPI and Radio Australia) then looks at how Australia can move from viewing the Pacific as an arc of instability to an arc of responsibility, while Dr Quentin Hanich (Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security) outlines maritime issues facing the region.
In the second panel, a range of experts give an update on the South Pacific region and outline the challenges and opportunities for future Australian policy and engagement.
Starting proceedings, Dr Ron May (ANU) discusses Papua New Guinea’ internal and external security issues. Dr Sinclair Dinnen (ANU) looks at the Solomon Islands with a focus on RAMIS, transition in the country and the nation’s future. Dr Gordon Peake (ANU) turns his gaze to Timor-Leste, which he claims is increasingly in the Australian spotlight, while PhD candidate Siobhan McDonnell (ANU) rounds out the panel by examining land development politics in Vanuatu. Professor Brij Lal (ANU) closes the session with an examination post-coup Fiji.
In the third panel, a range of experts bring their regional perspective to bare on the topic of young people in the Pacific. Dr Jack Maebuta (University of the South Pacific) discusses peace education and peace building in the Solomon Islands, while Serena Sasingian (Executive Director of The Voice Inc.) looks at how Papua New Guinea is developing opportunities for young people. PhD candidate Sarah Logan (ANU) outlines the relationship between information technology communications and political stability in the Pacific, while Dr Patrick Vakaoti (University of Otago) turns his attention to youth participation in the Pacific and opportunities for Australian engagement.
* The descriptions of these videos are based on text from ANU’s Youtube channel.