Despite their small size, the twelve independent states in the Pacific Islands – Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and the Federated States of Micronesia – make up the voices. Within the United States it forms an important bloc. In the international climate negotiations that are important to them, and which are considered to be a moral conscience, two other Pacific nations are involved in the Cook Islands and Niue.
Without their efforts as a driving force in the negotiations, the Paris climate agreement would not be in its current form, particularly the goal of limiting the average temperature rise to 1.5 ° C if possible. Especially on Fiji Initiative However, in the past few years, Pacific nations have also emerged more and more self-confident outside of climate policy, most recently with Negotiations on the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
But that might be a thing of the past at the moment. In the past few weeks, it has lost so much confidence among the countries of the region, especially in its international leader Fiji, that further cooperation cannot be envisioned without resolving disputes. At the beginning of February, the five states of Micronesia in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean, Kiribati, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia had the most important regional organization, namely: Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), leave. Indeed, Palau has its message Withdrawn from Fiji. The remaining countries in the forum are also divided as hardly as they were before, such as the escalating conflict Other joint institutions appear.
The crisis of cooperation in Oceania has complex internal causes that go far beyond the cause of the current escalation, the election of the former Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Henry Bona, as Secretary-General of the Forum. Therefore, the search for a single cause of the current crisis leads to nothing. The truth is that the lines of conflict run in multiple dimensions across the region, for example between the sub-regions of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, between the island states on the one hand and Australia and New Zealand, which are also part of the Forum, on the other hand, and between Fiji and Samoa, both of which claim a regional leadership role in Itself.
In Oceania, more than any other region of the world, the personal relationship of trust between heads of state and government is of fundamental importance.
This dichotomy is tragic because, in fact, island states continue to take similar positions on the issues of climate change and sustainable development that are most important to them. But even more than in any other region of the world, the personal relationship of trust between heads of state and government is of fundamental importance in Oceania. Therefore, the timing of the escalation is not a coincidence: Diplomats around the world are talking about Covid-19 challenges for their work. Even if the epidemic in Oceania is less severe than elsewhere, physical meetings have not been possible there for months.
However, regional cooperation is based on high-level meetings (“retreats”) with direct contact between heads of state and government. It may not always be transparent, but it has been effective in holding the countries together in the region. Without this sense of community that has arisen, territorial integrity is now You become a victim of an epidemic. Pacific countries are currently just as non-peaceful as the ocean that gives their region its name.
The current divide is likely to make Oceania a plaything of the interests of powerful states more than before and further fuel the power rift between the United States and China. They recognized the strategic importance of the island region, which covers nearly a third of the Earth’s surface and forms a “buffer zone” between Asia and America. The large marine areas of island states are also becoming increasingly important due to the resources stored there.
Australia and New Zealand have long lost their role as regional dominant nations – aided by the frustration of island states over a lack of support for climate change and both countries’ financial control of regional institutions. This has boosted China’s ambitions to expand its influence: of the many island states that have recognized Taiwan, only the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu are now left. China maintains close military cooperation with Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu; There are always reports of plans for Building Chinese naval bases.
The current divide is likely to make Oceania a plaything of the interests of powerful states more than before and further fuel the power rift between the United States and China.
It is entirely possible that the United States will put pressure on its former Micronesian colonies, which remain closely linked to them – the United States of today, the Marshall Islands and Palau – to prevent the election of Buna, who is believed to be open to more Chinese influence. . This also leads to an open dispute between the United States already allied as well as Australia and New Zealand, which support the new secretary-general.
Without a minimum of regional cohesion, bilateral ties with more powerful states outside the region are likely to grow again. The European Union, though, is there Pacific Islands Forum They work together, but other than that it has little to offer in the area, and that shouldn’t satisfy. Global alliances such as the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) are also likely to feel the regional split in climate policy.
The fact that the Forum has lost its relevance on its own is a weakening of international climate policy. In the past, the forum served as an important source of inspiration and platform for island nations to wrest concessions at the regional level from Australia, which is one of the biggest brakes on climate protection, as in Explanation of the second kaynaki.
At the international level, territorial division undermines the narrative of island states that they are not small island states, but large ocean states. Because this narrative, which has given nations increasing self-confidence internationally, depends not only on their large maritime regions, but also on the idea that the ocean is not something that separates, but something connected.
The loss of relevance of the forum alone is a weakening of international climate policy.
It is precisely the Pacific nation’s loss of confidence in its leader Fiji that will likely slow his efforts to pursue an increasingly clear and independent Pacific policy internationally. This has contributed to the fact that Fiji is increasingly trying to exert its influence through regional institutions. Other countries in the region resent Fiji for their agreement with Australia and New Zealand on escalating personnel decision, despite having positioned themselves as opposing both countries in the Pacific for years.
This is also bitter for Fiji because after the membership of two Caribbean island states, the Dominican Republic and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, in the United Nations Security Council in recent years, it has once again raised hopes that it will be the first Pacific island country in the foreseeable future to summon the most important A UN body – also as a reward for decades of commitment as a provider of troops in particularly precarious UN peace missions. But in addition to supporting China, support from other Pacific countries will also be essential.
The past has shown that politics in the Pacific are fast moving and can produce unexpected twists and turns. Ironically, Fiji’s suspension from the forum in 2009, as a result of a military coup led by Australia and New Zealand, prompted the islands to operate independently at the international level rather than undermining cooperation due to growing frustration with Australia.
This time, however, the challenges are likely to be much greater, as collapse and a loss of confidence spreads across the region. If heads of state and government succeed in resuming direct talks, it cannot be ruled out that states will join hands again. In the past, in the event of conflicts between individual countries in the region, symbolic reconciliation ceremonies helped rebuild the trust that had been destroyed.
In Europe, it is better for us to keep a close eye on what is happening in the region. We have to free ourselves from the view that the Pacific island nations get attention only when Chinese and American interests there collide. The power interests of the two major countries are an indicator, not a reason, of the region’s strategic importance – be it security policy, climate protection, or multilateral agreements.