Transforming the regional architecture: new players and challenges for the Pacific Islands

Date
2015-08
Authors
Maclellan, Nic
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Honolulu, HI: East-West Center
Abstract
Growing debates over the mandate and capacity of regional institutions in the Pacific highlight the complex and cluttered agenda facing island leaders. The Pacific Islands Forum, with a new secretary general and Framework on Pacific Regionalism, is working to forge collective positions among its 16 members. But fundamental policy differences over climate change, trade, and decolonization reinforce the sentiment among islanders that Australia and New Zealand should play a less dominant role within the Forum. The current question of Fiji's reintegration into the Forum overshadows deeper structural changes across the region: Island nations are increasingly looking to nontraditional development partners and using mechanisms outside the Forum. Meanwhile, looming decisions on climate and self-determination seem destined to alienate powerful friends. Pacific islanders want to set the agenda within their own institutions, and are finding it increasingly difficult to paper over contested visions for the future.
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