Erenlai - Focus: Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific
Focus: Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific

Focus: Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific

In February the newly established Taiwan Society for Pacific Studies brought to Taiwan a flurry of distinguished guests from all over Oceania to rediscover their sea of islands with their first conference: Mapping and Unmapping the PacificIn this Focus we bring you the highlights of the footage from over a dozen scholars leading us into a new era of cooperation, based on respect and common struggles.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific: Island Perceptions of an Oceanic Continent

Rediscovering our sea of islands was a momentous paper written by Epeli Hau`ofa, the most influential Pacific scholar of his age (read here), where he laid out his ideas for a new Oceania. Indeed during this conference it seemed like the Pacific had rediscovered the lost island of Taiwan and Taiwan had rediscovered the ocean. Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific: Island Perspectives of an Oceanic continent was the first international conference held by the newly established Taiwan Society for Pacific Studies and it undeniably reaffirmed Taiwan’s position geographically on the edge, but spiritually as a core part of the Pacific. While in February we covered Taiwan's indigenous peoples and Taiwan's specific role in the Pacific with our Focus, Turning East, Taiwan's Pacific Frontier, in this April Focus we are given a smorgasbord of insights and perspectives on the wider oceanic continent.

Uniting our sea of islands in the face of common struggles

The Austronesian family has long been scattered and restricted in their movements - through colonialism and then through the constraints due to the nation-state and the paradoxical ‘pass'-port system. Yet during this two day conference and as the guests visited Austronesian communities in Taitung, there was rejoicing as they were finding their long lost relatives - recent research suggests that the Austronesian language family spread out into the Pacific from Taiwan. The most influential Pacific scholars joined the growing network of Taiwanese students of the Pacific in this attempt at 'remapping' the Pacific. Grant McCall went on to explain the historical attempts to 'map' the Pacific and gave his own suggestion for a linguistic division by 'nesias' before showing that the Pacific is nonetheless connected on a Möbius Strip of knowledge; Francis X. Hezel shows how Christianity can still be a tie that binds the Pacific together along with Arthur Leger S.J. who claims that the Catholic Church can be a force to keep Oceania from falling off the map; Hamashita Takeshi offers suggestions for a peaceful future for East Asian engagement in the Pacific through a union of coastal cities which transcends national definitions and rivalries and Katerina Teiwa explains that the Pacific is united by its diversity and which is expressed in their arts and culture festivals and exchanges.

Whether it be culturally, economically, academically or politically a common theme throughout the 2-day conference was the need for a degree of autonomy. While Ta-chuan Sun (Paelabang Danapan) presented his final propostion for Taiwan's indigenous movement, Vilsoni Hereniko compared the what he had seen of the indigenous situation in Taiwan with the plight of indigenous Hawaiians, commenting that all the way accross the ocean the struggle was the same - to be free, indigenous peoples must have cultural autonomy. Indigenous peoples must be masters of their own future, then as custodians of the ocean, they can unite in order to face up to the growing environmental crises, drawing on traditional wisdom which dictates harmony with nature.

Renaissance Oceanie

As Hamashita Takeshi points out in Learning from Ryukyu the world has much to learn from the Pacific. What we observed at this conference was that the Pacific can go beyond mere cooperation in the face of common struggles. In times often dominated by selfish nationalism on country to country basis, the concept of Oceania offers an alternative world view which could be as promising as when Europe declared it would never have intra-wars again with the creation of the EU. The Pacific offers fusions of traditional culture and modern society as well as ideas that transcend the prevailing nation state concept.

One of the last major obstacles to overturning the Pacific's colonial legacy is building narratives and education indigenous to the Pacific. In this spirit, Pierre Maranda presented the ambitious project Oceanie.org, a type of intranet encyclopaedia which works through the concept of "attractor" and "attractor basins" to remap Oceania thought as well as advancing new media in the field of anthropology. Many of the conference participants were trying to flout new narratives, that transcended western academic traditions such as Yedda Palemeq with her papers expressing the different notions of time between Western academic thought and Austronesian thought and Nakao Eki whose is attempting from her PhD to offer produce work based from an Amis historical narrative with her concept of the Inbetweeners.

Many other speakers at the conference offered new innovative perspectives; for example, Patrick Savage combines his musical background with his anthropological interests in his presentation on the possibility of using music as a marker for Austronesian migrations. The critical point was that the conference laid out a new roadmap, from this point forward, their would closer networking, a sharing of ideas, innovation and mutual respect, borrowing Grant McCall's concept "we are all connected by a Möbius Strip of knowledge".

We give thanks to all the speakers and those who partook in the organisation of this conference, including the young volunteers who kept the show running (see video below). Special thanks goes to Paul Farrelly and Conor Stuart for their enthusiastic support in documenting the event and helping disseminate information through to the public.

Alternative (for readers in China)

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Tuesday, 15 March 2011

New Media in Anthropology and the Lau People


Pierre Maranda is a distinguished cultural anthropologist, and his academic career is renowned for its broad scope and the development of highly innovative research methods. His main innovation is concerning the structure of anthropology, which took root early in his career when he worked on the island of Malaita Province in the Solomon Islands with the native Lau aboriginal tribes. He combines the research methods of social and cultural anthropology, philosophy, literature, mathematics and other disciplines. In 1996 he was awarded the Molson Prize from the Canadian Council for the Arts. The panel of judges praised him as follows: "The international impact and recognition of his research are remarkable. Pierre Maranda is a talented professor and communicator whose lectures and publications have contributed to the dissemination and application of his research findings."

He has worked in various scientific journals and books, published over 150 papers, and participated in more than ten international conferences in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Australia, Britain, France, Sweden, Japan and other countries as well as holding seminars and special events and giving speeches. In 1998 he was granted L'Ordre des Palmes académiques in Paris.

In this interview Maranda introduces the website www.oceanie.org and how new media can be used to reform anthropology:

Alternative (for those readers in China)

In a second interview Maranda gives us an account of his anthropological work in Malaita in the Solomon Islands and his attempts to retain traditional institutions against a tide of fundamental evangelicanism and modernization, which was later chronicled in his documentary film:

Alternate (for those readers in China)

Below is a summary of Pierre Maranda's key-note speech to the "Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific" conference, held in Taipei in February 2011.

Pierre Maranda  - Key Note Speech (Abridged)

First, I want to congratulate the organizers of this conference for the formulation of its theme and its bearing. They are questioning current ideas about Oceania through a double inversion, actually a paradoxical title. A paradox is a statement contrary to commonly accepted ideas and that seems self-contradictory or absurd, but that may in reality express a possible truth. The first inversion consists of a statement, “mapping” and its inversion, “un-mapping”. The second resides in the contrast between “island” - here understood of course as the thousands of Oceanic islands - and the term “continent”.

Such a paradoxical approach is a most productive dialectical heuristics. Turning an idea upside down questions - which is disturbing - common assumptions. Indeed inversions compel one to work back and revise completely one’s thoughts and feelings on a given subject. Provocative, paradoxes are dialectical in that they trigger disputation or debate aiming at exploring differences between two opposite views so as to come up with a renewed, transcendent one. Accordingly paradoxical statements are heuristic because they lead to higher levels of knowledge. And that in turn, when one reflects on one’s mental processes, leads to what is currently called meta-cognition.

The theme of this conference echoes Epeli Hau’ofa’s important and most relevant essay A New Oceania: Rediscovering Our Sea of Islands. Like the title of this conference that of his essay is actually a paradox.

A quick reminder of who was Epeli Hau’ofa (he passed away in Janyary 2009) - http://savageminds.org/wp-content/image-upload/our-sea-of-islands-epeli-hauofa.pdf

In the words of our colleague Alex Golub of the department of anthropology, University of Hawai’i,

“Ethnically Tongan, born in Papua New Guinea, educated in Australia, and a naturalized citizen of Fiji, Hau’ofa’s life exemplifies the vibrant, diverse, and connected image of Oceania he promoted throughout his life. Those of us who study Papua New Guinea will remember him as an ethnographer of the Mekeo, but his influence expanded far beyond his ethnographic work — indeed, he is most often remembered as a novelist and author of short stories, and his humorous, satirical writings about the fictional but too-close-to-home Tikongs are widely read both in and out of the Pacific. […] In “Our Sea of Islands” Hau’ofa argued against the then-common (and still-common) presumption that Pacific Islanders lived in small, isolated, remote communities separated by a massive ocean. Instead, he argued that Pacific Islanders were connected by an ocean which facilitated movement and connection. Like all great ideas, it was an inversion of popular understandings that was so true and so timely that in retrospect it seems impossible to imagine how we lived without it (emphasis added). (http://savageminds.org/2010/11/01/anthropology-and-the-long-essay/).

However Hau’ofa did not touch on an important point. Indeed what would be the common language, the lingua franca of the “sea of islands”, what would be the continent’s idiom that would enable Oceanians, proud speakers of their native tongues, to communicate with each other? Pijin? English? And how about French Polynesia and New-Caledonia? A lingua franca to the detriment of mother tongues? Actually, as is already the case for instance in the Solomons, Pijin has become the mother tongue of young adults… Will consequently the so many different native languages be doomed? I would doubt it because so many Oceanians have been multilingual for generations in their numerous interactions with people of different ethnicities with whom they maintained trading and other relationships.

Keeping alive the irreducible diversity of native languages is a fundamental issue that must be addressed when considering remapping Oceania. One way to do it is to provide texts in native languages both for the population at large within a linguistic community and more specifically for use in schools. There is a great need in that respect and TSPS could contribute very significantly to meeting it so that whatever lingua franca predominates, it will not jeopardize the people rootings in their own cultures. Oceanians must remain firmly planted in their most fertile Pacific soil in order that their branching out does not entail losing their specific identities that warrant their survival instead of transforming them in pseudo Whites. Solomon Islanders have so often told me

Our guts ache, because we no longer know who we are. We know that we are not White people, we know that we are not sons and daughters of savages as they have called our fathers and forefathers. Christians tell us that our kastom is the work of the devil, that the stories we believe in are all wrong, but how about their own stories, their Bible? We too have stories about dead men resurrecting. But we know that it is no longer so. Is it not the same with their story about the resurrection of Jesus? We don’t know what or in whom to believe.

Years ago, I have witnessed pagan priests arguing with missionaries in Malaitan market places. They told them “David’s and Jesus’ genealogies are good for you, but we have our own genealogies that are good for us and we don’t ask you to learn them. Why should we learn your own genealogies? Then it says in your Gospel that if one has faith, one can move mountains. You have faith, no? Well look, there is a mountain right there, behind you: tell it to move and if it does then we’ll believe you”.

Oceanian identities are function of what is written in the Synopsis of this conference which

aims at identifying the ways of mapping the Pacific in time and space that have been developed by islanders, especially by Austronesian populations. Such "mapping" has taken place through migration roads, tales, songs and genealogies, as well as by astronomic or geographic charts and artistic renderings. Taking these representations both in their irreducible variety and as an organic whole may help a new generation of scholars to challenge the usual ways of looking at the Pacific world, thus enabling the inhabitants of this "oceanic continent" to enrich and develop the interactive process through which they understand their history and destiny.”

In Epeli Hau’ofa’s words(emphasis supplied),

if we look at the myths, legends and oral traditions, and the cosmologies of the peoples of Oceania, it will become evident that they did not conceive of their world in such microscopic proportions. Their universe comprised not only land surfaces, but the surrounding ocean as far as they could traverse and exploit it, the underworld with its fire-controlling and earth-shaking denizens, and the heavens above with their hierarchies of powerful gods and named stars and constellations that people could count on to guide their ways across the seas. Their world was anything but tiny. They thought big and recounted their deeds in epic proportions (Appendix 1, p. 7).

And the Synopsis voices a rejoinder to Hau’ofa’s statement under “Sacred Space-Times”: “Sacred elements in traveling and mapping, missionary routes and their rationale, conversions, new religions and the blurring of traditional religious mappings…”

The tack we have taken in CHEO (Cultural Hypermedia Encyclopedia of Oceania) to represent Oceania rests on the fact that there are major thoughts underlying language and actually structuring the ways their speakers use it, i.e., semantic syntaxes. As a dynamic substratum to different yet interconnected linguistic families such thoughts constitute a thesaurus of collective representations, i.e., ideas and feelings that shape worldviews, and that give people the conviction that they belong together. Some such major themes are universal and cut across linguistic families, others are culture-specific within linguistic families. According to the French semiotician and computer scientist François Rastier (1991, 1992) there are some 350 such major ideas - fundamental “keywords” - in Western societies : God, man, woman, sex, work, money, etc. Of course many other societies share all or some of those basic vectors of thoughts, feelings and behavior. Yet each society maintains identity vectors that enable its members to stand up and let other people know who they are. Here we fully endorse Fr Benoit Vermander’s (2005: 8) statement to the effect that

Though identities are mobile and changeable, they are still discrete entities, and the solutions to our common challenges will remain localized and different in substance. However, throughout the interpretative process these particular solutions will considerably vary from the ones suggested by the traditional understanding of one’s culture and identity, and the array of solutions devised form [sic] one’s culture or group to another will then be legitimately understood as a correlated set of attitudes, choices and decisions.

The “correlated sets of attitudes, choices and decisions”, networks of basic thoughts and feelings - “ontologies” in contemporary terminology -, depend on heavily loaded and deeply engrained culture-specific cognitive processes generating the fundamental “ideas” that structure ideologies. Expressed in cultural keywords as it were they “grip our guts”, Oceanians tell us. And such correlated sets form the ballast of societies, act as gyroscopes that maintain them on course in spite of difficult times that challenge their deep identities and ways of life. As both identities and ways of life must be reshaped without losing their groundings especially in times of crisis, we call those heavy and dynamic keywords “attractors” as I will explain below (Part 3). And, again in Fr Vermander’s words (p. 8),

In this perspective, all cultures, creeds and world-views are perpetually reshaped, and what defines them is never taken for granted but rather is being discovered and challenged throughout the process of exchange and interpretation. Thus, the core of our identity is never “behind” us, it is always “beyond”, it cannot be “essentialized”, it is rather “related to” the Other whose identity is similarly challenged and reshaped. At the same time, this ever-evolving reshaping of one’s culture, creeds and world-views does not lead to a confusion or a mix, it does define and sometimes sharpen one’s sense of belonging and core values (emphasis supplied).

Stimulated by the thought-provoking paradoxes of the title of this conference - powerful mental instruments to map and remap worldviews - are we now ready to take up rethinking and redefining the Pacific islands as Oceania? Perhaps we can try by moving beyond language, beyond native idioms and lingua franca, viz., to reach a level of collective representations that would remap and reshape Oceania. Is there a shared ontology that would “not lead to a confusion or a mix” but “sharpen one’s sense of belonging and core values”? Before showing CHEO’s approach to explore it I will briefly recall the importance of Taiwan as regards that endeavor.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Cultural autonomy: Balancing soul and survival

Vilsoni Hereniko is a hugely important figure in the Austronesian world charged with the mission of establishing the University of South Pacific's Oceania Centre for Art and Culture and Pacific Studies. He is also one of those inheriting the mission of Epeli Hau`ofa to 'rediscover' Oceania, their sea of islands, removed from its colonial legacy and based on respect for other cultures. Vilsoni was a keynote speaker at the Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific conference at the National Central Library, Taiwan in February 2011. Following the conference we interviewed him in Taitung. In the interview he discussed the indigenous dilemma and the importance of cultural autonomy as opposed to cultural authenticity.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The final proposition for the indigenous peoples’ movement in Taiwan

As Chairman of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, Professor Sun Da-Chuan is the most influential person in the indigenous movement in Taiwan.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Cultural policy, festivals and the performing arts in Oceania

In this presentation I explore the ways in which performing arts festivals, particularly the Festival of Pacific Arts held every four years, shapes cultural and political relations in Oceania.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Möbius Strip of knowledge

This article below is Grant McCall's full paper: Mapping and unmapping the Pacific –nesias. Thoughts to turn over on a flowing Möbius Strip of knowledge. The paper was prepared to accompany the speech he gave on Feb.16th at National Central Library, Taiwan.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Locating a promise land: from Taiwan to Oceania, from History to Literature

The young scholars session at the Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific conference held at the National Central Library, Taiwan gave three promising young scholars the chance to present their highly original work. Yedda Wang was part of a group of Asian students invited by Leiden University's Encompass program to study the history of Asia through Dutch colonial archives. She is a scholar trying to break through Western academic traditions and find her own way. In her speech Yedda introduced her past and current thesis projects and gave anecdotes lamenting the obstacles to her own historical direction.

Alternative (for readers in China)

Taiwan and Oceanian islands share quite a few things in common. In text-based fields such as history (archives) and literature (literary works), one is provided with ample examples of such points of convergence. Islands from both regions are plagued with colonial memories, though of different spans and under different powers; indigenous peoples from both regions consisting of many languages and cultures are mostly non-literate and thereby represented by others but themselves in written materials; and since mid-20th century, locally-born scholars, writers, activists et al. start to challenge in multiple ways the danger of stories produced not entirely from within but undoubtedly about them. The fact that these dots of land share such a diversity of both colonial and postcolonial experiences holds great promises to historical and literary studies especially on such themes as the transformation of indigenous societies, representation, identity, agency, the other, the writing of history et cetera. In other words, there is a promise land of convergence to be located. Based upon the same author’s previous studies in Leiden, this essay intends to show how history and literature in combination may contribute to the understanding Taiwan and Oceania, and how this understanding of Taiwan and Oceania, either taken as separately or symbiotically, may further enlighten about certain abovementioned themes.

The Stranger-King

In history, Wang’s research into Indigenous-Dutch relationships on 17th-century Formosa invites readers to reconsider a concept as the Stranger-King, developed in Oceania, for the explanation of colonial relationships:

Alternative (for readers in China)

Notions of time

Alternative (for readers in China)

In literature, Wang’s study of Patricia Grace (Maori) and Syaman Rapogang (Tao) stresses how contemporary indigenous writers, with their eyes on present post-colonial indigenous societies, have provided insights into the study as well as the writing and rewriting of the other. Their craft is worthy of consideration and their products can very well be the sources for historical studies. For an indigenous society, the past is never far from the present. A dialogue between colonial history and contemporary indigenous literature will therefore help us locate the promise land.

Photo: Lee Tian-hsiang



See Yedda's article about Lanyu author Syaman Rapongan, A subaqueous loner

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Learning from Ryukyu

Selecting from over 30 years of research, from a huge collection of archives all over the world, Hamashita Takeshi was to be one of the most distinguished speakers at the conference. His speech, The Formation and Transformation of the South Pacific Sea Zone from 14th to 18th Centuries, covered a wide range of Pacific History and gave innovative suggestions for the future. In the video interview below Hamashita focuses on the history of the Ryukyu Islands and South China Sea maritime culture while suggesting that in contemporary times, Japan has much to learn from Ryukyu and the wider Pacific.

Alternative (for readers in China)

Way before the maritime space of the South Pacific was frequented and formed by the Spanish in the 15th century, the Ryukyu tributary trade network has taken shape in between the East and South China Seas starting from the first half of the 14th century. Sulu (Archipelago) also sent tributary envoys to Xiamen, forming an interactive network between the South China Sea and South Pacific maritime spaces. Then Manila began to attract Chinese immigrants from South China in late 15th century after Portugal and Spain had signed a treaty that divided the oceans of the world. The 17th century saw the era of the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC in Dutch), who began to engage in connecting the maritime space of the South China Sea with that of the South Pacific. At the speech Professor Hamashita Takeshi discussed the connection and disconnection between the South China Sea and South Pacific maritime spaces around Taiwan Island through a comparison between the maritime space of East Asia and that of Western Europe. Furthermore he uses his historical knowledge to propose solutions for a peaceful engagement of East Asia in the Pacific.

Alternative (for readers in China)

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Other “Ties That Bind”: Christianity in East Asia and the Pacific

In this and similar conferences, we are in the process of being reintroduced to one another–like a gathering of a long-lost family. Not just Taiwanese, especially the aboriginal population, and the Island peoples–who are joined by ancient linguistic and cultural ties; but Westerners, Europeans and Americans as well.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Music as a Marker of Human Migrations

Debate on the question of how and why music varies cross-culturally was recently reawakened by the provocative claim that traces of the ancient migration of anatomically modern humans out of Africa can be heard in contemporary songs (Grauer 2006). Grauer‟s claim drew on data from the landmark Cantometrics Project (Lomax 1968), which remains the only global scientific study of human song. At the time, Lomax‟s causal interpretation of the correlation between culture and music – for example, male dominance causing nasal singing – was highly criticized even by other members of the Cantometrics Project (e.g., Erickson 1976).

While Grauer‟s recent migratory interpretation avoids Lomax‟s pitfall, many of the original criticisms of the Cantometrics Project resurfaced in skepticism about music‟s time-depth as a migration marker (e.g., Stock 2006). Could the acoustic surface of music really reflect ancient connections between cultures? If so, are these reflected in performance features (“singing”) or in the structural features (“song”) traditionally emphasized in Western musicology?

Lomax himself was highly critical of the use of Western musical notation in ethnomusicology, which he saw as emphasizing surface structural features at the expense of deeper performance features. He spent his life developing a performance-oriented approach that was concerned “not with songs abstracted from the stream of vocalizing we encountered on the tapes, but with the stream itself, with „singing‟” (Lomax 1980). Nevertheless, the Cantometric classification scheme that Lomax and Grauer (1968) developed contained roughly equal numbers of features devoted to “songs” and “singing”.

Our own view differs from both Lomax‟s and his critics‟ in that we propose that the structural features of song should have the greatest time-depth to track migrations, especially when applied to group performance in choral songs. Our reasoning is that structural features such as melody, texture and form require greater consensus among singers than the more idiosyncratic variation that goes into performance, such as timbre or ornamentation. Hence, features like scales and rhythms should be more stable over time than features like nasality or rubato.

These claims are testable. As a case-study to examine music‟s time-depth in the context of human migrations , we have examined the traditional choral music of the aboriginal tribes of Taiwan, who have been well-studied in terms of music, genetics, and migrations. (Loh 1982; Trejaut et al. 2005; Diamond 2000). Our primary aim, therefore, was to use existing information about the relative patterns of genetic and musical similarity among the Taiwanese aboriginal tribes to empirically test for the first time whether song structure or singing style has the time-depth required for studying human migrations. Our basic method was to compare music – a marker of unknown time-depth – against the best available marker with a well-established time-depth, namely mitochondrial DNA (Oppenheimer 2004).

METHOD

Participants

Of the 14 officially recognized tribes of Taiwan, eight had a sufficient number of both genetic and musical samples to permit comparative analysis: Amis, Bunun, Paiwan, Puyuma, Rukai, Saisiyat, Tao (Yami), and Tsou.

Materials

Genetics: Partial mtDNA sequences for 531 individuals from these eight tribes were taken from the dataset of Trejaut et al. (2005).

Music: YW and SB obtained 364 traditional songs from these eight tribes from commercial and archival ethnomusicological recordings. Restricting our sample to adult, choral songs left 222 songs for analysis. Sample sizes were: Amis=56, Bunun=31, Paiwan=28, Puyuma=32, Rukai=33, Saisiyat=14, Tao=13, Tsou=15.

Procedure

Distances between samples: Pairwise distances between individual a) genetic, and b) musical samples were calculated based on the number of pair-wise differences between a) mtDNA nucleotide sequences, and b) Cantometric classifications. This is the simplest possible distance measurement, as it makes no evolutionary assumptions about how those differences arose. We reserve more complicated methods that incorporate models of musical and genetic evolution for future studies.

Cantometric classification of the songs was done by VG. Two separate musical distance-matrices were calculated: one using the 15 song-structure characters from Cantometrics, the other using the 14 singing-style characters (see Figure 1 for details about these features). Eight Cantometric characters related to instruments alone were excluded from this analysis.

Distances between populations: For both genetics and music, the 28 possible pairwise distances among the 8 tribes were calculated using an Analysis of Molecular Variance (AMOVA) framework (Excoffier, Smouse, and Quattro 1992). These distances were measured using a statistic called FST, which represents the proportion of variability among individual samples that is due to among-population differences. Thus, it explicitly incorporates within-population heterogeneity, avoiding the assumptions of within-

population homogeneity that plagued Lomax‟s original statistical methodology (e.g., Henry 1968; Leroi and Swire 2006).

Figure 1. Organization of the 15 song-structure (red) and 14 singing-style (blue) Cantometric classification features used in this analysis. Note that our method focuses on the vocal component of the music and therefore ignores 8 classification features related to instruments.

Correlations: The statistical significance of the correlations between musical and genetic distances was tested using the permutation-based Mantel test (Mantel 1967) using 10,000 permutations, with the threshold for significance set at p < 0.05 (one-tailed). This test controls for the fact that the 28 pairwise distances among the eight tribes are not independent of one another.

RESULTS

Correlations between genetic and musical distances were highly significant (see Figure 2), suggesting that patterns of genetic similarity among the 8 tribes were matched by corresponding patterns of musical similarity. This observation makes a strong case for music having an ancient time-depth in analyses of human migrations.

To examine the “song” vs. “singing” comparison, the two panels of Figure 2 show the correlations between genetics and either song structure (Panel A) or singing style (panel B). Both correlations were significant. However, features of song structure accounted for twice as much variance in genetic distance as did features of singing style (song structure: r2=0.27, singing style: r2=0.13).

Figure 2. Scatterplots of the 28 pairwise genetic and musical distances among 8 Taiwanese aboriginal tribes. Genetic distances (y-axis) are based on an Analysis of Molecular Variance (AMOVA) of 531 mitochondrial DNA haplotypes. Analagous musical distances (x-axis) were calculated from 222 traditional choral songs using Cantometric characters of either A) song structure or B) singing style (i.e., performance). Statistical significance of distance-matrix correlations is based on Mantel‟s (1967) test.

DISCUSSION

Our main finding was that musical similarities among the 8 tribes were significantly correlated with genetic similarities. This provides the first empirical support for Grauer‟s (2006) claim that music has the time-depth required for use as a marker in studying prehistoric human migrations. Consistent with our predictions, the correlations with genetics were stronger when calculated using features of song structure compared to singing style, contrary to Lomax. However, the differences between these features were not nearly as striking as we had predicted. The simplest interpretation is that both singing and songs are useful as migration markers, which makes the overall case for using music as a marker even more persuasive. It allows for a pluralism of musical features that Lomax discounted, most especially with regard to structural features.

Our findings in Taiwan lend strong provisional support for music‟s time-depth in the case of a relatively recent (~6,000 years ago) migration. Whether music‟s time-depth reaches as far back as Grauer‟s Out-of-Africa claim, however, remains an open empirical question.

 

References

Diamond J. (2000). Taiwan‟s gift to the world. Nature, 403, pp. 709-710.
Erickson E.E. (1976). Tradition and evolution in song style: A reanalysis of Cantometric data. Cross-Cultural Research, 11, pp. 277-308.
Excoffier L., Smouse P.E., and Quattro J.M. (1992). Analysis of molecular variance inferred from metric distances among DNA haplotypes: Application to human mitochondrial DNA restriction data. Genetics, 131, pp. 479-491.
Grauer V. (2006). Echoes of our forgotten ancestors. The World of Music, 48, pp. 5-59.
Henry E.O. (1976). The variety of music in a North Indian village: Reassessing Cantometrics. Ethnomusicology, 20, pp. 49-66.
Leroi A.M. and Swire J. (2006). The recovery of the past. The World of Music, 48, pp. 43-54.
Loh I. (1982). The tribal music of Taiwan: With special reference to the Ami and Puyuma tribes. Ph.D. dissertation: University of California Los Angeles
Lomax A. (1980). Factors of musical style. In S. Diamond (ed.), Theory & practice: Essays presented to Gene Weltfish (pp. 29-58). The Hague: Mouton.
Lomax A. (ed.) (1968). Folk song style and culture. New Brunswick: American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Lomax A. and Grauer V. (1968). The Cantometric coding book. In A. Lomax (ed.), Folk song style and culture (pp. 34-74). New Brunswick: American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Mantel N. (1967). The detection of disease clustering and a generalized regression approach. Cancer Research, 27, pp. 209-220.
Oppenheimer S. (2004) The "express train from Taiwan to Polynesia": On the congruence of proxy lines of evidence. World Archaeology, 36, pp. 591-600.
Stock J.P.J. (2006). Clues from our present peers? A response to Victor Grauer. The World of Music, 48, pp. 73-91.
Trejaut J.A., Kivisild T., Loo J.H., Lee C.L., et al. (2005). Traces of archaic mitochondrial lineages persist in Austronesian-speaking Formosan populations. PLoS Biology, 3, pp. 1362-1372.

 

Patrick Savage(1), Tom Rzeszutek(1), Victor Grauer(2), Ying-fen Wang(3), Jean Trejaut(4), Marie Lin(4), and Steven Brown(1)

(1) Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Canada
(2) Independent scholar, Pittsburgh, USA
(3) Graduate Institute of Musicology, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
(4) Transfusion Medicine Laboratory, Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taiwan

Photo: Cathy Chuang

Friday, 01 April 2011

Falling Off The Map: Global Issues from a Regional Perspective

I contend that Oceania is falling of the map because politicians and economists are pushing it off the map. Only people in academia use the word "Oceania", we use the word "Pacific" or "Asia-Pacific" but it is very unusual to use the word "Oceania".  I claim that one of the largest groups that can help to keep Oceania on the map is the Catholic Church...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Celebrating Connections among our Sea of Islands

Noai e mauri:  Noaia e mauri is how we greet each other on Rotuma, a Polynesian island 300 miles north of Fiji, and my original homeland. This greeting literally translates as “Thank you for your life.” Let me change that to “Thank you for your lives”, all of you attending this important conference. Your presence brings much prestige, and your knowledge has enriched, and will continue to enrich, our discussions at this conference.

I want to thank the organizers and funders for bringing us all together, from far and near, and for all their hard work in putting together this landmark event. I also want to thank June Lee in particular. She has been in touch with me over several months now, and I must admit to being impressed by her negotiation skills. Without her tenacity, efficiency and diplomatic skills, I wouldn’t be here. June – Faiaksia, which means thank you, in the Rotuman language.

In this short presentation, I want to reflect upon the work and the words of the late Professor Epeli Hau`ofa of Tonga, the man whose job I have now inherited. In my opinion, Epeli was, and still is, the most influential thinker in the field of Pacific Studies for the past twenty years or so. He didn’t write all that much – a comic novel, a collection of satirical short stories, a slim volume on his research, and a number of essays – but whatever he wrote was remarkable because of its perceptive and inspired visionary take on Oceanic life. Although his fiction is more entertaining than his other works, I want to highlight his essays, most of which have been published under the title: We are the Ocean: Selected Works.

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If you are not familiar with Epeli’s writing, I would encourage you to buy yourself a copy of We are the Ocean and read it before you go to bed at night, and as soon as you get up in the morning. I did that last night and this morning as well, and I am the better for it. But be careful, it is the kind of book that could possess you, which is what happened to me this morning. My alarm went off, I jumped out of bed, showered, and got ready for breakfast, only to realize that my iphone was still in Fiji time, and that the correct time in Taiwan was 1 a.m. Yes, one in the morning. So what was I to do? All dressed up and nowhere to go. I took out my speech, and in rereading it, found myself rewriting it like a man possessed by Epeli’s spirit. Well, they say in parts of Polynesia that around two or three in the morning is when the spirit world is most active, and I can vouch for that. According to my abstract, I was supposed to talk more about the arts, but Epeli wanted me to talk more about himself (how could I refuse the man?) Epeli took me in a different direction. But being a spirit he knows more about what our needs are in this conference than I do and I am quite happy to be guided by him.

I should remind you that Epeli passed away about two years ago now, and that I get no royalties for recommending his book. Just in case you are wondering . . .

In 1997, Epeli founded the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. Epeli’s vision for the Centre is that it would become a safe and protected space where artists – painters, dancers, woodcarvers, sculptors, and musicians particularly – could come together to create original works of art without fear or prejudice. Thirteen years later, the Centre has acquired a reputation for the development, creation, and promotion of innovative and original art, particularly in the area of contemporary dance, music, and painting. It has also grown in terms of its physical and human resources, and now it has become a vital and dynamic Centre, not just at USP but increasingly for the rest of Oceania as well.

Owned by 12 nations within our Sea of Islands, a phrase made popular by Hau`ofa in his influential essay of the same title, USP is one of only two universities in the world (the other being the University of the West Indies) that can be said to be truly regional, with 14 campuses spread out over an ocean that covers one-third of the earth’s surface. Students at USP are drawn mainly from USP’s owner countries -- Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu – and the result is a very diverse student body.

It is no surprise then that since its humble beginnings in 1968, the creation of a regional identity at USP, instead of a narrow and nationalistic one, has always been a challenge. Ugly incidents of brawls between certain ethnic groups, such as Tongans versus Samoans, ultimately led to USP’s leaders abolishing its once popular Pacific Week when cultural groups on campus performed their dances and demonstrated aspects of their cultures with pride and sometimes with defiance. Today, although ethnic dances can still be seen on campus and students still tend to hang out and socialize according to their own cultural groups, the ugly brawls of former years seem to have disappeared. Instead, what has emerged is a regional identity, based firmly on traditional cultures of our ancestors, but free of their shackles, as well as those of former colonial powers. This has come about mainly because of efforts to encourage students to form social groups according to interests rather than culture.

Leading the creation of this regional identity was, and is, the Oceania Centre where students from different ethnic backgrounds can be seen working and playing together. The Oceania Centre therefore provides a model for the creation of identities that are open and fluid, instead of closed and unchanging.

Taking its cue from the vast and ever flowing Pacific Ocean whose waters wash and crash “on the whole Pacific Rim from Antarctica to New Zealand, Australia, South East and East Asia, and right around to the Americas,” the Oceania Centre in Fiji draws its inspiration not just from within Oceania, but also from East and West. In Hau`ofa’s words, the Oceania Centre promotes the kind of identity “that transcends all forms of insularity島國性質, to become one that is openly searching, inventing, and welcoming.”

Hauofa’s vision focuses on the vast ocean, and not on the small islands that our colonizers and our detractors tell us are too small and will always be dependent on the largesse of larger nations. By encouraging us to mentally shift our perspective, Epeli liberates our minds to recognize that the world of our ancestors was as vast as the Pacific ocean and that Oceanians traversed its highways long before the arrival of Captain Cook.

It is in this spirit of expansion that we welcome and launch the Taiwan Society for Pacific Studies, the newest Pacific Studies organization in the world. Like a new canoe that has taken years to build and has just been completed, the Taiwan Society for Pacific Studies is about to leave the safety of land and venture out into the wide open ocean, where seas can be rough, and the weather stormy. This, however, is a journey that our ancestors took thousands of years ago when they left these shores and ventured out to find new and unknown lands in what we call today the Pacific Ocean. Our ancestors must have been brave men and women, for there was so much more that was unknown then than is the case today. But this doesn’t mean that this new journey is going to be less difficult, because like all long canoe journeys, successful arrival at destination will depend on careful preparation and planning, physical and intellectual prowess, and when necessary, sheer determination and tenacity when the seas become rough and hurricanes or cyclones threaten to destroy the canoe and every brave person on it.

On the eve of your departure into the blue continent, may I make a few suggestions that might help you on your maiden voyage. Please take whatever you feel might be useful, and discard whatever you feel will only burden and weigh you down. And since you want your canoe to skip along the surface of the Ocean blue with speed and ease, let me suggest then that you take with you just three baskets of sand. I call these baskets of sand because in our mythology, it was sand poured on rock that created Rotuma.

Please fill your first basket, let’s call this the responsibility basket,  with this quote from Epeli’s essay titled “The Ocean in Us” in which he wrote: “Our most important role should be that of custodians of the ocean: as such we must reach out to similar people elsewhere in the common task of protecting the sea for the general welfare of all living things” (55). It is this feeling of responsibility toward the Ocean that led Epeli to use the term Oceania instead of Pacific for the name of his Centre. Given our sea-faring heritage, I think we would agree with Epeli’s emphasis on the importance of the ocean to all of us, particularly now that sea-level rise has become an issue of pressing concern.

In your second basket, let’s call this the inheritance basket, and this is a big one, please fill it with this quote, from Epeli’s essay titled “Pasts to Remember”: “To remove a people from their ancestral, natural surroundings or vice versa—or to destroy their lands with mining, deforestation, bombing, large scale industrial and urban developments, and the like – is to sever them not only from their traditional sources of livelihood but also, and much more importantly, from their ancestry, their history, their identity, and their ultimate claim for the legitimacy of their existence. It is the destruction of age-old rhythms of cyclical dramas that lock together familiar time, motion, and space. Such acts are therefore sacriligeous and of the same order of enormity as the complete destruction of all of a nation’s libraries (think Library of Congress), archives, museums, monuments, historic buildings, and all its books and other such documents” (75).

In your third basket, let’s call this the identity basket because it deals with the arts, this is what Epeli wrote in his essay titled “Our Place Within”:  He wrote: “We begin with what we have in common and draw inspiration from the diverse patterns that have emerged from the successes and failures in our adaptations to the influences of the sea.  From there we can range beyond the tenth horizon, secure in the knowledge of the home base to which we will always return for replenishment and revision of the purposes and directions of our journeys. We shall visit our people who have gone to the land of diaspora and tell them that we have built something: a new home for all of us. And taking a cue from the ocean’s everflowing and encircling nature, we will travel far and wide to connect with oceanic and maritime peoples elsewhere, and swap stories of voyages we have taken and those yet to be embarked on. We will show them what we have created; we will learn from them different kinds of music, dance, art, ceremonies, and other forms of cultural production. We may even together make new sounds, new rhythms, new choreographies, and new songs and verses about how wonderful and terrible the sea is, and how we cannot live without it. We will talk about the good things the ocean has bestowed on us, the damaging things we have done to them, and how we must together try to heal their wounds and protect them forever.”

These three baskets-- baskets of responsibility, inheritance, and identity-- will be enormously helpful as you carry out research in Oceania and among Oceanians, people of the sea. When you make landfall, pour these baskets liberally on the rocks along the coastline, and new islands will form.

Let me conclude then with Epeli’s observation that the ocean connects us all, you here in Taiwan, to the rest of us in the Pacific, and that at one time, before our colonizers arrived and carved up the Pacific into Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia (leaving out Taiwan altogether), and required us to have passports and visas before we travelled among our sea of islands, our ancestors traversed the seascapes like highways that connected one island to another.

Epeli exhorts us to free ourselves from colonial thinking, and reconnect with the larger reality of our seafaring ancestors whose world was anything but small: This is his conclusion to the most influential essay in Pacific Studies ever written. Titled “Our Sea of Islands”, this is what Epeli wrote in his conclusion:

“We are the sea, we are the ocean, we must wake up to this ancient truth and together use it to overturn all hegemonic views that aim ultimately to confine us again, physically and psychologically, in the tiny spaces that we have resisted as our sole appointed places and from which we have recently liberated ourselves. We must not allow anyone to belittle us again, and take away our freedom.”

Thank You again for your kind invitation to address this esteemed gathering tonight. I look forward to the rest of this conference, and to everything else you have planned for us during this time we have together.

Ma ta ma maria’ ma of sia. And that is the end of my speech.

 

 

Friday, 25 March 2011

The 'Kurile Islands': How Far Do They Stretch?

Yakov Zinberg is a lecturer in International Relations at Kokushikan University in Tokyo, and North East Asia regional editor for Boundary and Security Bulletin (IBRU, Durham University, UK). He has published extensively in Japan's territorial issues in English and Japanese. In this interview he discusses Political power transition in Japan and the Northern territories issue.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Security and the Cartography of Pacific Islands Regionalism: The Origins and Evolution of Regional Identity

Richard Herr has taught at the University of Tasmania since his appointment in October 1972 and has held a variety of positions within the University. He is currently the academic coordinator for the Faculty of Law's Parliamentary Law, Practive and Procedure course. He earned a PhD in Political Science from Duke University and, during his academic career; he has written widely on aspects concerning Pacific Island Affairs. Professor Herr has served as a consultant to the Governments of the Pacific Islands region on a range of organizational issues for nearly three decades and most recently on the restoration of democracy in Fiji. He was awarded the Medal in the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2007 Queen's Birthday Honours List for "service to higher education". In 2002 he was presented with an AusAID Peacebuilder award for his work in the Solomon Islands.

This is an interview with Richard Herr on Australia's role in the Pacific:

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In addition to the full text of the speech available below, we have provided a video of his speech at the conference "Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific" on Regionalism in the Pacific:

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Security and the Cartography of Pacific Islands Regionalism: The Origins and Evolution of Regional Identity

Drawing the boundaries of a region would appear to be a relatively simple task.  However, 70 years of scholarship analysing the global growth in international regions suggest it is far from easy.  Bruce Russett demonstrated empirically in the 1960s, using rather sophisticated factor analysis, that there were no real “natural” geographic regions.[1] Nevertheless, regionalism as a concept implies geography as a central factor.  A doyen of international regional scholarship, Joseph Nye, makes the point that geography cannot be the sole criterion.  He has argued that the states that comprise a region need both to be geographically proximate and have achieved a high level of interdependence.[2] But, interdependence demands a third element – trust amongst the associated states.  Geographic proximity tends to encourage trust since it enables the routine interactions required to build interdependence.  The shared characteristics such as ethnicity, historical experience, economic ties and the like that often go into a regional definition usually involve proximity.  Yet, although military necessity is another frequently identified rationale for international cooperation, historically, it is as likely to divide contiguous states as unite them.  In brief, the concept of international regions remains definitionally challenging.  Perhaps, the only practical way to map the contours of an international region is to accept a tautology: a region is a region if its members say that it is.

 

There are complications, nevertheless, even with this temporisation.  Who has the authority to say what a region is?  Here one needs to differentiate between “owners” and “stakeholders” – that is, those that formally constitute a region and those with a significant interest in it.  The distinction is important as this paper argues that ownership of the concept of a Pacific Islands region was in dispute for much of the early years of the post-World War II era.   The issue was largely settled by decolonisation and the decision to retain the colonial era boundaries of the region.   However, the retention of dependencies as co-owners of the concept of the Pacific Islands region and the inclusion of two metropolitan powers within the formal ownership arrangements of the region have continued to create tensions and ambiguities between owners and stakeholders.  These tensions have existed primarily because the independent Island states have maintained the original boundaries of the region.  The emergence of new stakeholders and heightened internal conflicts have raised a second issue with the capacity of member states to decide the boundaries of the Pacific Islands region.  Heretofore, all interdependent arrangements within the Pacific Islands region with limited memberships have been deemed “sub-regional”.[3] This distinction is under pressure now and may well be the most serious challenge to the boundaries of the Pacific Islands region in its history.

Defining a Region

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Indigenous assertions that there was a pre-contact of Pacific Islands’ identity has been disputed despite myths of a “Pacific way” or some pan-Pacific brotherhood of peoples uniting all the Pacific Islands together.[4] Modern scholarship does not support extensive geographic awareness across the entire scope of the modern Pacific Islands region amongst pre-contact Pacific peoples.[5] This is not to deny the extensive voyaging and navigational skills of the pre-contact peoples in various parts of the modern Pacific Islands region, which was truly remarkable, provided some peoples with an in-depth knowledge of the area now considered to be the Pacific Islands region.[6] Rather, it is to say that the contours of the contemporary system were not derived from aboriginal foundations of knowledge or cooperation.  The simple fact is that, at least initially, the residents of the Pacific Islands did not define the scope of their neighbourhood.  The Pacific Islands region and its boundaries were, to a real extent, imposed by outsiders – not as a ghetto, perhaps, but for the convenience of the extra-regional powers nonetheless.  The political marvel is that the locals managed to embrace this concept and to make it their own.

 

The colonial experience was as divisive for Pacific Islanders as it was for peoples in other corners of a world riven by imperialism.  The essentially competitive nature of conquest and subjugation did not tend to promote international cooperation across imperial frontiers.  Nevertheless there were some internationally mitigating factors in the Pacific Islands’ area.  The British Empire, itself very extensive in this area, had its influence further extended by the cubs of the British lion – Australia and New Zealand – who also pursued territorial ambitions with parts of Oceania.  Regionally focused cooperation for administrative efficiency such as the Western Pacific High Commission and the Suva Medical School within the British Empire did promote awareness amongst the dependent peoples from separate colonies of each other but this was scarcely their purpose.  The Pacific Islands Monthly, perhaps, served as the most significant innovation regarding consciousness-raising for Pacific Islands regionalism in the colonial era.  A product of the Great Depression, this English language magazine published in Australia crossed imperial boundaries by satisfying a common need amongst the plantation elites across much of the British and French South Pacific for news of markets, economic trends and political developments.[7]

The Japanese invasion of the European Pacific colonies was an even more powerful, albeit negative, impetus for regional cooperation.  The threat united the Western powers – Australia, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States – in mutual defence of their security and for the protection of their Pacific territories.  The Southwest Pacific and South Pacific theatres of war generated integrated command structures and, consequently, the necessary arrangements for cooperation to prosecute the war.  This identity became especially important to Australia and New Zealand as the middle powers whose security interests were most directly threatened by the Japanese aggression.  Their concerns were to survive the war and so gave rise to the modern regional system.

 

The ANZACs’ Draft a Blueprint for the Region – Almost

The Anglo-American Caribbean Commission, a wartime measure to provide for economic and social needs of the island peoples in the two countries’ Caribbean dependencies, offered the template for a regional approach in the Pacific.[8] The two ANZAC states promoted the same basic idea at various post-war reconstruction planning sessions of the Allied Powers.  They made little headway with the other Pacific metropolitan powers that were more concerned with re-establishing their colonial control after the war.  After repeatedly being denied effective representation in the broader councils for Allied post-war planning, the two antipodean powers made their own demarche for regional reconstruction through the Agreement between Australia and New Zealand (ANZAC Pact) in February 1944.

This agreement proposed two post-war regional associations for the South Pacific.  The more important, from an Australian perspective, was one that provided for a regional security system that would stretch from Portuguese East Timor to French Polynesia.  This one would include all the Western colonial holdings (once these were restored to their metropoles) within its ambit. Seven stakeholders were identified for this association – the six allied powers plus Portugal, which was officially neutral during the war.  The second of the regional associations in the ANZAC Pact proposed a trust arrangement to promote the welfare of the dependent peoples.  This arrangement excluded the Netherlands and Portugal from participation and therefore their territories were excluded from the trusteeship region.  The omission of Portugal and the Netherlands was almost certainly due to an anthropological presumption that the dependent peoples of these two states were not genuinely South Pacific Islanders but belonged to Southeast Asia.

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The 1944 ANZAC Pact was a brave but almost futile declaration in terms of generating international support for its regionalist intentions.  It was only Australian persistence and a concession to abandon the security scheme that finally won a grudging willingness from the other metropolitan powers to meet in Canberra in February 1947 to discuss the ANZACs’ proposal for regional cooperation based on the welfare of the Pacific Islanders.  The 1944 Pact did not include either the Dutch or the Portuguese in the welfare body but the Netherlands was invited to the 1947 meeting when it promised not to include the bulk of its East Indies colony within the proposed body.  The Netherlands sought only to add West New Guinea, a territory with people indistinguishable from those across the border in Australia’s Papua New Guinea.[9] Portuguese involvement, on the other hand, appears not to have been reconsidered despite Australia’s debt of gratitude to the people of East Timor for their valiant assistance to Australian troops during the war.

The “South Seas Regional Commission Conference” made most of the critical decisions regarding the scope of the South Pacific region.  Given that the intention of the proposed body was to promote “the advancement and well-being of the native peoples” of the area, the first key decision was in inviting those imperial powers that Australia deemed had the appropriate indigenous peoples whose welfare was to be promoted.  Portugal was out but so too was Chile.   Chile administered the furthest outpost of Polynesia, the sparsely populated Easter Island.  Japan, which possessed much of Micronesia at the start of the war, was not included in the 1944 proposal for fairly obvious reasons.  Still, it is interesting to note that the native peoples of the Japanese Pacific Islands empire do not seemed to have been considered as eligible candidates even by the new American administration after the war.  In 1947, the United Nations passed control over these islands formally to the US but the American Government was allowed to treat these islands as a security asset, indeed, as had Japan under a League of Nations’ mandate.  In early 1947, the future of America’s new Micronesian islands were too uncertain to be deemed eligible for the proposed regional welfare agency.

The status of its Micronesian territories was not the only decision the United States had to make regarding its dependencies in the Pacific.   The Philippines was not considered at all as it had been promised independence and, in any case, it would have been regarded as ineligible on the same grounds as the Dutch East Indies by Australia and New Zealand.  Guam had been reclaimed but was still separate from the ambit of the proposed South Seas Regional Commission by the extensive expanse of the former Japanese Micronesian islands.  Hawaii was the largest Polynesian dependency in the Pacific but the local non-Polynesian population and Washington had plans for a future that did not include separation from the US.  Initially, therefore, the American delegation to Canberra brought only one territory to the table – the small Polynesian territory of American Samoa.

Australia was the only other participant to face territorial dilemmas regarding the geographic scope of the proposed region.  As with the US decision on Hawaii, the Australian Government gave short shrift to suggestions that the Aborigines of the Northern Territory or that the Torres Strait people should be included in the operational area of the South Seas Regional Commission.  More problematic was the case of Norfolk Island.  This tiny island between Australia and New Caledonia was peopled by the descendents of the Bounty mutineers who were relocated from Pitcairn in the 1850s.  Later, many of these returned to Pitcairn with the result that Britain included this miniscule territory within the proposed Commission’s scope.  The uncertain status of Norfolk Island as Australian domestic territory and the origins of its people saw Norfolk included within the defined region but not convincingly.[10]

There was one other territorial quibble at the South Seas Regional Commission Conference regarding the scope of the proposed region but one with profound political implications for the future development of South Pacific regionalism.  The standing of Tonga was disputed.  This ancient Polynesia kingdom had never been colonised.  By treaty, Tonga was a British protected state but it remained formally independent.  Thus, the Tongans were unwilling to be defined as a “dependent people” although the UK Government wanted them included in the organisation’s work programme.  Again, early maps of the Commission’s boundaries were instructive as they drew a dotted line across the bottom of the Tongan “enclave” to show that it was included in the SPC’s work programme while the solid line on the other three sides indicated Tonga was, to some extent, apart from the rest of the region.  The significance of this was not so much that Tonga was not being regarded as part of the region.  Rather, it was that Tonga was in the region.  Being eligible as a beneficiary of the SPC’s work programme, Tonga was deemed ineligible from ownership of the SPC’s region.[11]


The SPC Defines the Region – Ultimately?

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Although the ANZAC states did not achieve all their aims, the South Seas Regional Commission Conference did reach a successful conclusion from their perspective.  The six participating states signed a treaty (the Canberra Agreement) to establish the South Pacific Commission (SPC)[12] but without the mandate for political development that the two sponsoring states had wanted.  Thus, for the first time, the most of the Pacific Islands were united in a region-defining cooperative enterprise yet not one of their making. The 1947 Canberra Agreement delineated a region but it had not yet defined the Pacific Islands region.  This point may have come in 1951 when the SPC reached its greatest extent following the successful bid by the United States to add Guam and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) to the SPC’s ambit.[13] At this point, the South Pacific region stretched from the Northern Marianas to Norfolk Island along one axis and from the Pitcairn Islands to West New Guinea on the other.

This geographic span lasted scarcely more than a decade.  In 1962, the Dutch were expelled from West New Guinea and withdrew from the SPC.  The Indonesians were not of a mind to succeed the Dutch vacancy in the SPC on behalf of West New Guinea (renamed West Irian) nor did any SPC member encourage Jakarta to pursue the possibility.  Nonetheless, the loss of the Dutch territory profoundly influenced the course of Pacific Islands regionalism.  The idea that external decisions could decide who was or was not a Pacific Islander shocked some Island elites who were becoming more self-conscious of a regional identity due to both the interactions available through the SPC and the ‘winds of change” beginning to stir across the South Pacific.  The SPC had made provision for a triennial advisory meeting of Islanders through an organ called the South Pacific Conference.  The first of these met in 1950 and there were five including the ill-fated 1962 Conference in Pago Pago, American Samoa where the West New Guinea delegates wept bitter tears in the knowledge they would never sit together with those that they had come to regard as fellow Pacific Islanders.

The second critical definitional influence on South Pacific regionalism in 1962 was the independence of Western Samoa.[14] As the first dependent territory to reclaim its sovereignty, Samoa opened a number of problematic issues about the nature of the SPC as a regional organisation.  The capacity of a “non-dependent” people to continue to benefit from the work programme of the SPC was fairly easily resolved in Samoa’s favour.  Apia’s unexpected desire to accede to the Canberra Agreement, however, provoked a three-year test of wills that transformed the concept of ownership of the region.  When Samoa succeeded in joining the Commission in 1965, the entire exclusionary approach to membership in the SPC and, with it, external ownership of the regional identity, was overturned.

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From 1965, the SPC’s Western members were confronted with a two-pronged challenge to their control of South Pacific regionalism.  Decolonisation would increasingly add to the number of states with the eligibility to follow Samoa’s path into formal Commission membership through accession to the Canberra Agreement.  The second prong led to reform of the Conference to allow the dependent territories to have a greater say over the organisation’s work programme through this organ.  Regionalism and regional identity would never again be the preserve of extra-regional states.  The authentic boundaries of the Pacific Islands region would only be drawn by the inhabitants of the region not by those outside who claimed to know what was best for them.

 

The Forum and the SRO – A Need to Redraw the Regional Boundaries?

The dramatic failure to reform the SPC at the South Pacific Conference meeting in Suva in late 1970 was a critical turning point in regional affairs.  It forced a fundamental shift in Pacific Islander attitudes toward the nature of South Pacific regionalism but, critically, not the definition of the region’s boundaries.  In this regard, the Pacific Islands pursued a different regional path than that taken by the Caribbean Islands when confronted with the same political crossroads the Pacific Islands faced in 1970.  In the process of morphing from the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission into the Caribbean Commission the concept of the region shrank in the minds of the “owners” of the regional identity.  Its boundaries were redrawn.  The perceived boundaries of the Caribbean region were diminished in scope by the exclusion of non-independent territories.  The concept of an integrated Caribbean regional system has never recovered the breadth of the Commission had in the 1950s.[15]

Pacific Islands’ regionalism could have opted for the exclusionary road taken by the Caribbean states but it did not.  There were strands of development that might have taken it down the Caribbean path.  Five countries within the SPC region became independent or self-governing by the time of the 1970 South Pacific Conference – Western Samoa, Cook Islands, Nauru, Tonga and Fiji.  Four of these countries established a body in 1964, outside the SPC framework, called the Pacific Islands Producers Association (PIPA), which served as a minor marketing arrangement mainly with New Zealand.[16] PIPA provided a mechanism to regroup after the disappointment of the Suva Conference.  Had it become the vehicle for herr5independent political cooperation, the Pacific may well have followed the Caribbean path.[17] A second important influence was the desire to exclude the colonial powers that had blocked political reform in the SPC.  This attitude toward the colonial powers in the Caribbean was a significant factor in the exclusionary approach taken by the independent states there.

However, the four independent members of PIPA members in consultation with Nauru recognised their very real limitations as international powers, and so adopted a more pragmatic approach to creating regional capacity.  Australia and New Zealand were invited to join the five independent and self-governing states in a new political association.  This pragmatism went so far as to ask New Zealand to host what was to be the first meeting of the South Pacific Forum in Wellington in August 1971.  Clearly, the Pacific Island states did not want to exclude all the metropolitan powers from their next stage in South Pacific regionalism even though a significant rationale for the initiative was to exclude some; those powers – France, the United Kingdom and the United States – perceived to be obstructionist.  More importantly, the Island member of the South Pacific Forum (or “FICs” as an acronym for Forum Island countries) did not want to exclude the territories that were ineligible for membership in the Forum even, or perhaps more correctly, especially those territories under the administration of the metropolitan powers that were excluded.  Moreover, none of the members of the new South Pacific Forum members resigned from the Commission or the Conference subsequently.  Thus, from the very outset of the Forum arrangement, the conceptual boundaries of the region remained the geographic scope of the SPC.

There were several reasons why the operational scope of the South Pacific region was not redefined with the advent of the Forum.  Perhaps the most important reason was that even the Forum’s Island members had not given up on reforming the SPC.   Just how this long-term aspiration for reform was to be expressed in the context of the new Forum relations was rather inchoate for several years. In part, this stemmed from some initial confusion as to the Forum’s real purpose as demonstrated by Australia’s faux pas in sending Charles Barnes, the Minister for External Territories, to the first Forum meeting in Wellington as its representative.  Canberra appeared to inadvertently reveal a colonial bias contrary to the new direction that Pacific Islands’ regionalism was taking.   On the other hand the three excluded metropoles were generally relaxed regarding the political initiative.  They tended to see the regional scheme as a localised development that was largely irrelevant to the future of their territories in the South Pacific.  This attitude might have been expected from France and the US but is less explicable in the case of the UK since the Forum, in 1971, was made up entire of FICs with Commonwealth connections.  The developments at the next meeting of the Forum, however, clarified some of the risks and challenges posed to the established pattern of regional relations by the establishment of the Forum.

Australia convened the second meeting of the Forum in Canberra and, correcting the error in Wellington, Prime Minister William McMahon hosted his fellow Heads of Government.  A number of questions were resolved at the Canberra meeting that bore significantly on the future of regionalism in the Pacific Islands.  The first was a decision not to create the Forum as a legal entity in its own right.  The model chosen was a direct crib from the Commonwealth of Nations’ Heads of Government Meetings.  It was to be a club that operated on club rules rather than international legal obligations.  So, what were the rules for entry to this rather exclusive regional club?  An Australian proposal to invite Papua New Guinea (PNG) to join the Forum at its next meeting resulted in a “full and frank” debate on membership.  PNG was on the verge of self-government[18] and, Australia argued that this would the same status as the Cook Islands, which was a founding member of the Forum.  Fiji argued against the nomination on the grounds that, unlike the Cooks, self-government was not the “final” status for PNG and so there would be many uncertainties as to PNG’s capacity within the Forum until it settled its independence issues.  A compromise was reached that offered PNG observer status in the Forum until independence when it would be eligible for full membership.

The ambiguities in concept of “eligibility” for membership in the Forum were also apparent in the criteria for the intergovernmental organisation (IGO) established at the second Forum.[19] Despite having PIPA, at least potentially, available as an economic IGO to be revamped to suit the Forum’s needs, the second Forum agreed to establish a new, OECD-style economic advisory body to be known as the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Cooperation (SPEC).[20] Article XI (2) of the SPEC Agreement states:

The signature of a member government shall not be taken as extending the rights and obligations set forth in this Agreement to the territories for whose international relations the member government is responsible.

The intention was to ensure the compromise with regard to PNG’s membership would not be undone in SPEC.  Significantly, nothing in the SPEC Agreement specified the operational scope of SPEC; only that its membership would be determined by the Forum.[21] Yet, it was commonly understood at time that recruitment into the Forum and into SPEC would only be from the Pacific Island countries (PICs) of the SPC.  This “understanding” soon set in train a contest for ownership of the agreed concept of the region – an extended debate that was to become known as the “single regional organisation” (SRO) issue.

A confluence of interests following the formation of the Forum merged the ANZAC powers’ desire for greater economic efficiencies in aid to a region that absorbed very large shares of their overseas assistance and the FICs’ desire for greater control of the regional agenda.  However, the locking of horns over where ultimate control of the Pacific Islands region rested – SPC or Forum – was only possible because proponents on both sides agreed there was only one region.   SPEC provided the catalyst for the first shots in the debate.  SPEC’s inaugural Executive Secretary, Mahe Tupouniua, had been only the second “commoner” to attain ministerial office in the Kingdom of Tonga.  He applied his redoubtable energy, intellect and drive to making a success of SPEC.  In March 1974, less than a year after SPEC was established, it absorbed PIPA’s functions and PIPA itself was terminated.[22] The realisation that the functions of one regional organisation could be transferred to another was undoubtedly a critical inspiration for the SRO.  The report of SPEC’s 1976 review of regional aid delivery found that better coordination of aid would produce more effective aid enabling the donors to achieve the efficacy they desired and the Island polities would secure improved outcomes.[23] The perceived duplication of effort between SPEC and the SPC interfered with achieving these efficiencies.  Thus, it was argued, aid impacts could be enhanced if the two organisations were merged.

The SRO issue did not influence in any material way the contours of the Pacific Islands regional borders since it was predicated on keeping those of the SPC as they were.   Rather, it was the fact that the Forum accepted these boundaries as valid that is important for the present argument.  Basically, the FICs sought to use the Forum as a parallel vehicle to pursue the decolonisation of the SPC in order to preserve the integrity of the region as defined by the SPC.  Yet confusion regarding the SRO concept and, perhaps, a lack of a real commitment to the objective were evident almost immediately the debate was joined.  In 1978, the Forum members established the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) as an independent IGO despite officially maintaining a need for a single regional organisation.  The contradiction was not lost on critics of the SRO proposal but there was no slackening in the efforts by the proponents of an SRO for another decade.[24]

While the SRO imbroglio did not involve a reconsideration of the outer boundaries of the Pacific Islands’ region it did throw up some interesting conundrums relating to internal stakeholders and ownership of the concept of the region.  Perhaps the first test of ownership versus being a legitimate stakeholder after the decision regarding PNG’s eligibility for Forum membership arose in connection with Guam in 1984.  Guam was a participant in a project searching for hydrocarbons amongst the Pacific's atolls managed by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) through a Committee for the Coordination of Offshore Prospecting/South Pacific (CCOP/SOPAC).  Despite the SRO issue, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 1984 to commission CCOP/SOPAC as a regional IGO.  All of the body's members were Forum members except for Guam yet none of the other participants wanted Guam excluded under the new arrangements.[25] A bit of legal legerdemain and a willingness of member states to look the other way allowed Guam to remain a stakeholder in, albeit not a co-owner of, the regional organisation.  Guam was included in the MOU’s preamble as a participating member but not listed amongst the signatories to the MOU.[26]

The membership complications of the SRO issue were perhaps most spectacularly revealed in the resolution of the status of SPREP.  A South Pacific “Regional Seas” project of the United Nations Environment Program became a subject of the SRO rivalry.  The compromise was a hybrid inter-institutional administrative arrangement to manage the South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP).  The SPC housed the program and provided the secretariat services while SPEC chaired the SPREP executive.  Spurred by the increasing funding available for environmental projects in the 1980s, the Forum sought exclusive control of SPREP.  However, as an SPC based program its activities reached across the entire ambit of the SPC region.  If the Forum were to incorporate SPREP as an IGO within its family of agencies, this would alienate the non-FIC Islands from its work.  Such exclusion was unacceptable to these territories. The Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region [1986] accentuated the challenge posed by the non-FIC Island participants in SPREP by including all the PICs within the scope of the Convention.[27] Additionally there would be the probable loss of financial support from those metropolitan SPC members (France, UK and US) that would not be in the Forum arrangement.  Finally the international community would have had some doubts about a regional program that defined the Pacific Islands region more narrowly than SPREP's original area of coverage.  Yet again, another compromise proved necessary and, again, inclusiveness at the regional level won out.  A 1991 ministerial meeting of SPREP participants agreed to reconstitute SPREP as an IGO with a headquarters in Samoa and retaining a membership essentially the same as the SPC’s South Pacific Conference.[28]

The SRO debate ended essentially with the creation of the South Pacific Organisations Coordinating Committee (SPOCC) in 1988.  Establishment of SPOCC was intended to achieve greater technical and administrative efficiencies through easier collaboration between member agencies and, hopefully, to avoid the charge of duplication and waste, which was the ostensible rationale for the SRO proposal.  SPOCC was misnamed, however, to some extent since it did not have the power to coordinate the affairs of its member agencies.[29] Rather it served as an advisory arrangement to the parent bodies through their secretariats.   Further evidence of the commitment to inclusiveness within the boundaries of the region regardless of political status was given when SPOCC changed its name to the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) in 1999.  This was, in part, a consequence of a couple of important name changes to delete "South Pacific" from some regional agency names.  “South Pacific" was seen by some as inappropriate because the region's ambit included islands above the Equator and so was a slight to them.  This issue had proved a challenge to the SPC from the early 1960s but no consensus could be found as an alternative until Dr Bob Dun, then Secretary-General of the SPC, forced renaming the South Pacific Commission as the "Pacific Community" in 1997.[30]

Resolving the SRO issue may have helped to promote some more liberal inclusiveness within the Forum.  New Caledonia (1999) and French Polynesia (2004) were admitted into the Forum as observers despite no general acceptance that they were clearly on a path to a final political status that achieved at least effective internal self-government if not full independence. France that had lobbied long along with these territories for their inclusion and, in part, this was a reward to Paris for finally ending nuclear testing in the Pacific in 1996 and the accords setting out the options for New Caledonia’s future.[31] The two French territories were given a closer relationship with the Forum in 2006 through the creation of an “Associate Member” status.  At the same Forum, another French territory, Wallis and Futuna, was given admission as an Observer.[32] This tranche of expansion in the Forum’s participation provided the first partial, but very minor, tweaking of the regional boundaries since the SPC’s boundaries reached their zenith in the early 1950s.  Essentially at Canberra’s insistence, the Forum granted Timor-Leste “special observer status” in 2002, which was subsequently confirmed as an Observer under the new rules.


Security and the Future of Pacific Islands Regionalism

What security gave in creating the contours of the contemporary Pacific Islands region it may someday take away.  As has been argued, the pursuit of security played an integral part in creating the Pacific Islands region albeit not directly.  The ANZAC Pact of 1944 proposed two differently configured regions for the South Pacific.  The military alliance advanced in the 1944 treaty did not eventuate but the participation of the other four Western powers in the SPC in 1947 was intended to reassure Australia and New Zealand of their cooperation in regional affairs with the ANZACs despite the absence of a formal defence arrangement.  The value of the SPC for Australian and New Zealand security ambitions proved inadequate and the US had to find a more direct defence association with the deepening of the Cold War in the early 1950s.  In order to secure ANZAC support for a “soft” peace treaty with Japan to strengthen Cold War containment aims, the United States negotiated a defence alliance with Australia and New Zealand in 1951.[33] The ANZUS Pact was neither as regionally comprehensive as the arrangement proposed in the 1944 ANZAC Pact nor was it as strong as the NATO structure for which Australia argued.  Nevertheless, it was a defence alliance and it did provide a regional coverage.[34] The requirement to consult amongst the treaty parties was activated by Article V of the ANZUS Treaty, which held:

an armed attack on any of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of any of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”

By the terms of the treaty, the geographic reach of its operation was potentially anywhere in the Pacific where troops or any vessel with an ANZUS member state flag might be.  However, the practical geographic extent was the homelands and Pacific dependencies of the three member states.  This was underscored when Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies apparently asked the US Administration of John Kennedy in the early 1960s if the ANZUS provision for military assistance would be triggered should Canberra go to the aid of the embattled Netherlands in West New Guinea.  The response did not encourage any expectation of help if Australian troops came under fire in an engagement outside Australian territory.[35]

The American commitment to ANZUS really only became more than minor and largely ceremonial with the advent of the US intervention in Viet Nam in the mid 1960s.  Annual ministerial consultations, shared defence facilities and joint manoeuvres emerged to draw the three states parties together for perceived mutual security but the ANZUS focus was in Southeast Asia rather than the Pacific Islands.  It was not until 1976 that ANZUS discovered a need for a regional string to its Pacific security planning.  The number of territories achieving independence had reached a critical mass as evidenced by the creation of the South Pacific Forum in 1971.  The significance of this continuing wave of independence for Western security interests struck home rather dramatically (some might argue, over dramatically) in April 1976 when the Soviet Union established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Tonga.  The ANZUS Council of Ministers meeting in June of that year proposed inter alia to address the Soviet challenge by promoting regional solidarity amongst the generally pro-Western FICs.  Regional coherence was made a critical plank in what came to be known “strategic denial”, an approach that was basically an extension of the general American policy of containment against the Soviet Union.[36] Whether strategic denial actually worked can be debated but there was every expectation at the time in the three ANZUS capitals that regional solidarity was the key to preventing the USSR from exploiting the individual weaknesses of the Pacific microstates.

Significantly, while the ANZUS regional strategy did not depend on the SPC’s regional boundaries, broader Western security interests for the entire region did interlock to some extent within the SPC’s operational ambit.  NATO linked the security interests of the three non-Forum metropolitan powers in the region – France, United Kingdom and United States – although not directly the mutual protection of their Pacific possessions.  France and the UK were individually responsible for their territories but the US enjoyed some shared alliance support through the ANZUS Treaty.  However, the critical issue at the time was not the dependencies but the independent FICs that had the capacity to act self-interestedly and autonomously with any extra-regional power they might choose.  Thus, the ANZUS regional approach to strategic denial relied on the privileged position that Australia and New Zealand occupied in the Forum as something more than just key stakeholders.[37] Their hegemony in this powerful regional association and the application of soft power rather than military-based relations were meant to reduce the sort of aberrant behaviour amongst the FICs that could lead to a Pacific “Cuba”.

Not without irony, the assumption of ANZAC hegemony and the coincidence of Western security interests was challenged in following decade by the same division that provoked the split within the SPC leading to the creation of the Forum.  This was the cleavage separating the nuclear powers and the non-nuclear powers.  By the mid 1980s, Labour parties beset by intra-party divisions over security participation with nuclear capable states governed both Australia and New Zealand.  Partially as a response to these pressures the two agreed to promote a regional nuclear weapons free zone in the South Pacific.  The FICs were happy to embrace the resurrection of a concept that enjoyed their support at the very instigation of the Forum.  The Forum states signed the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (SPNFZ or Treaty of Rarotonga) in August 1985 at their annual leaders meeting.[38] The ANZAC powers found to their chagrin that they had miscalculated the effect of SPNFZ on the permanent five members of the UN Security Council.  The two had hoped that SPNFZ would eliminate any non-Western nuclear interest in the region while cementing the conventional weapons predominance of the West in the Pacific Islands.  In the event, the PRC and the USSR quickly associated themselves with SPNFZ by signing the appropriate protocols to the treaty but the three Western powers rejected the treaty and its protocols.[39]

Tensions within ANZUS over regional policy were intensified at this time by other factors.  New Zealand’s domestic anti-nuclear weapons policy alienated the US when Wellington insisted that Washington identify nuclear equipped vessels before allowing port access.  The breach had New Zealand suspended from ANZUS activities when Australia supported the US against New Zealand.[40] Unrelated but paralleling these developments, Kiribati lost patience with the US over its refusal to accept coastal state management of the highly migratory species of tuna, which constituted a principal known natural resource.  In August 1985, it signed a fisheries access agreement with the USSR.  The agreement only lasted a year and was not renewed due to a Soviet Oceanic Fisheries Department demand for reduced fees.  Vanuatu had acquired reputation as a somewhat aberrant actor within the region following its independence in 1980.  It accepted relations with Cuba and Libya, presumed Soviet surrogates, and the ni-Vanuatu Government signed a fisheries access arrangement with the USSR shortly after the i-Kiribati agreement lapsed.  Vanuatu took a leading role in the region opposing colonialism and nuclear weapons, especially testing by one of its erstwhile administering powers – France.  Thus, even as the Cold War was on the verge of collapse, the value of the regional security consensus within the Forum was being sorely tested.  Whether it would have been viable had Cold War tensions continued is moot but the Western powers were making adjustments in aid, fisheries policy and the like to maintain a soft power capacity for significant influence within the Pacific Islands region to maintain influence.

The perceived security value of Pacific Islands’ regionalism changed with the end of the Cold War.  From 1976 to the end of the 1980s, regionalism served as a vehicle to help maintain some Western security interests.  This is not to say that no FIC security interests were served.  There was some mutuality; some perceived physical security benefits for the FICs as in SPNFZ; and, most importantly for the Islands, some benefits with economic and human security through agencies such as the FFA.  Nevertheless, for nearly a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was a decline in external security interest as Western powers such as the US and UK began reducing their effort in the region.  Even Russia, which had finally secured a diplomatic mission (in Port Moresby) just before the collapse of the USSR, found little reason to stay.  There were security issues such as money laundering, the sale of passports, resource poaching, flags of convenience and the like but the international community generally left such issues to bilateral or intra-regional action.  The Forum approved programs to strengthen policing capacity, cooperation on information and intelligence sharing; transport and communications security and the like from the early 1990s.  A Forum Regional Security Committee was formed in 1992 essentially to coordinate the efforts against transnational crime.  Throughout the decade of the 1990s, a series of declarations were drafted by the Forum to strengthen the rule of law and security established a political framework for enhancing the collective regional capacity to assist individual FIC members to meet their sovereign responsibilities with regard to internal security.[41]

A fundamental change occurred following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  International perceptions of the risks posed by fragile and failing states rewrote security analysts’ assessments of the potential exploitation of the vulnerabilities of the Pacific Islands.[42] A regional response regained favour with the two ANZAC powers – this time to deal the non-state threat of terrorism.  Again, the Forum was the principal instrument.  At the urging of its Australasian members, the Forum responded with the 2002 Nasonini Declaration on regional security and terrorism and expanded the work of the Forum Regional Security Committee to include terrorism within its remit.  The Australian and New Zealand Governments also strongly supported relevant action through other regional agencies.  This included the SPC’s Regional Maritime Programme, which aided the implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.  Through chairing CROP, the Forum was able to influence the entire region but this was enhanced from 2005 with the adoption of the “Pacific Plan”.[43] The Plan was endorsed by all agencies and their members (more or less) to rationalise regional institutional architecture and to promote regional integration in order to strengthen state capacity across the region.  The strengthening of the role of the Forum would also further entrench the position of Australia and New Zealand in the regional system as non-resident co-owners.

 

It is beyond the scope of the present paper to detail in full the speculation presently circulating regarding the pressures within the Forum arising from internal security concerns.  Yet, it is possible that the new tensions could actually redraw the boundaries of the Pacific Islands region.  The Pacific Plan’s roadmap to closer regional integration has provoked concerns as to the hegemonic role that Australia and New Zealand play within the present regional architecture. However, it is the 2000 Biketawa Declaration that has raised the spectre of a serious pushing these concerns to the level of being a threat to the Forum as a “regional” organisation.[44] The Biketawa Declaration was a Forum response to coups in both Fiji and the Solomon Islands in 2000.  By it, the Forum leaders committed themselves inter alia to, “upholding democratic processes and institutions”. The Declaration also included options for sanctions including “if necessary, targeted measures.”[45] The application of sanctions in support of the principles of the Biketawa Declaration against the post-2006 coup Government in Fiji has become increasingly controversial. The Government of Commodore Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, in power since a military coup in December 2006, has taken particular exception to the use of the Forum to impose sanctions against it seeing Australia and New Zealand as the principal instigators of these sanctions.[46] Bainimarama therefore has appealed increasingly to regional neighbours to resist the ANZAC influence in the Forum.

 

Bainimarama has turned to the sub-regional association, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), as the mechanism for his regional fight back.   The MSG was formed in 1988 by three Melanesian states to express solidarity for the decolonisation of the French territory of New Caledonia.[47] Fiji joined the MSG in 1996[48] and, in 1988, the four states signed the Agreement Establishing The Melanesian Spearhead Group association, which gave the group legal personality and so transformed it into an IGO.  There is an historical irony in contemporary Fiji’s use of the MSG against the Forum. Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, Fiji’s first Prime Minister and the acknowledged architect of PIC regionalism, feared that sub-regionalism might destroy the broader regional system.  This fear looms much larger now as a real prospect with the divide between the Forum and MSG over Fiji driving the wedge between the two levels of association.[49] Bainimarama’s appeals to the MSG appear to have elicited some very positive responses.  For example, all the MSG leaders visited Fiji shortly after the 2009 Forum and expressed their support for Bainimarama despite having endorsed the decision at the Forum to continue the sanctions against Fiji.  There have been a number of similar and important gestures since.[50]

Fiji’s Prime Minister may have recently pushed the MSG wedge to the point where it may actually fracture the region.   In preparing to host the 2010 MSG meeting, where he would become MSG Chair, Bainimarama indicated that he would invite FICs not members of the MSG to attend as observers, the “MSG Plus” arrangement.[51] The prospect that, as Chair, he would be able to use the MSG as a vehicle to re-create the Forum without Australia and New Zealand raised such concern in Canberra and Wellington that steps were taken to prevent Fiji from taking over the Chair.  Whatever the actual involvement in the decision by then ni-Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei’s decision to cancel the 2010 MSG leaders meeting, Bainimarama reacted strongly to perceived Australian and New Zealand involvement by expelling their senior representatives in Suva.  Natapei’s decision was repudiated by other MSG countries soon afterwards and, when Natapei lost the prime ministership, arrangements were made within the MSG to apologise and return the Chair to Fiji.  The Solomon Islands hosted a ceremony of apology where the Chair was passed the Solomon Islands, which then immediately passed it on to Fiji.  Whether Bainimarama will now continue to pursue the  ”MSG Plus” option is open but, if he does, the older concept of the Pacific Islands region may not survive the challenge.  It seems unlikely that “MSG Plus” could replace the Pacific Islands Forum even though it could preserve the long-standing boundaries of the Pacific Islands region.  Nevertheless, there could little doubt that a viable MSG Plus and an attempt to retain the Forum intact would revive many of the features of the older SRO issue.

herr8


Conclusion

Mapping the boundaries of the Pacific Islands region has been a long odyssey and one that continues today.  This cartographic exercise is interesting not so much because the boundaries have been in dispute.  They have not been for sometime.  Indeed, the only real change in the last 60 years has been the exclusion of West New Guinea (1962) and the very recent, and very limited, attempt to include Timor-Leste.  Rather the tensions have risen from defending the agreed boundaries.  Initially, these stemmed from disputed ownership of the region.  Extra-regional colonial powers created the region but the residents of the region wanted to take possession of it through a process of decolonisation.  The desire for complete ownership of the region was so strong amongst the Island peoples that, even when it became clear that decolonisation would not deliver absolute ownership of the region to them, they refused to redefine the boundaries of the Pacific Islands region in the way the Caribbean peoples had Caribbean regionalism.

Creation of the South Pacific Forum became a significant test of what was the authentic Pacific Islands region.  The inclusion of Australia and New Zealand created an anomaly in the distinction between owners and stakeholders.  The two Western states clearly constituted a special category of stakeholders but, without changing the region’s boundaries, they became owners as well. This imposes a sort of political schizophrenia on Pacific Islands regionalism since in the case of the FFA and SPNFZ boundaries; for example, parts of the two are included within the region’s operational ambit.  The single regional organisation row both demonstrated that the SPC’s boundaries were the region and that the FICs were not prepared to concede ownership rights even to those PICs that had not yet secured control of their own destinies.  Since the FICs were unable to relax their commitment to either tenet, they had to temporise, which they did through the establishment of SPOCC (now CROP).  This has allowed the continuation of “two speed” regional integration across the expanse of the Pacific Islands.

Recently, issues of internal security (as opposed to the external security concerns that served as a catalyst for creating the region) have threatened the coherence and, possibly, the regional system itself.  The attempt to strengthen state capacity through regional mechanisms, especially the Pacific Plan, has generated increasing tensions with regard to Fiji since the December 2006 military coup.  Never before had regional machinery been used punitively against a member and Fiji, not alone, has felt this to be a misuse of the regional system.  The Government of Frank Bainimarama has been resisting this pressure by accentuating the anomalous role that Australia and New Zealand have in the Pacific Islands regional system.  Fiji’s attempt to reinvent a Forum without the participation of the two Western powers was only partially successful but the contest of wills over the MSG Plus proposal seems destined to leave serious scars regionally.  Being supplemented by closer ties with Asia and the promotion of other exclusionary mechanisms such as the Pacific Small Islands Developing States group (PSIDS) at the United Nations, Fiji has thrown down a diplomatic gauntlet that might appear to be only an ownership/stakeholder issue.  However, the MSG is an ethnically based association, which cannot remain true to its origins and provide a comfortable home to Polynesian states such as Samoa.  Should the current divisions intensify, one option may well be for the MSG to abandon its “sub-regional” status and claim full regional standing.  Where this would leave the Pacific Islands region is anyone’s guess but it would force a very serious redrafting of the regional atlas of the Pacific Islands.



[1] Bruce M. Russett, International Regions and the International System: A Study in Political Ecology (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1967)

[2] Joseph Nye (ed.) International Regionalism, (Boston: Little Brown and Co. 1968), xii.

[3] As will be addressed below, the membership of the Pacific Islands Forum and other agencies are not conterminous with the functional scope of the Pacific Islands region but they are not regarded as sub-regional since their potential membership pool is all within the region.

[4] This was a common theme in the early years.  See, for examples: “Twenty-fifth Anniversary Messages”, South Pacific Bulletin, XXII (October 2, 1972), p 19.

[5] Gordon R. Lewthwaite, “Geographic Knowledge of the Pacific Peoples” in Herman R. Friis (ed), The Pacific Basin (New York: American Geographical Society, 1967), pp 51-86.

[6] Naming the region has been somewhat more difficult than identifying its reach.  The “South Seas” was in common use from the advent of extensive European contact until the early/mid 20th Century.   From the end of WW II until the late 1990s, the region was generally referred to as the “South Pacific” when the term “Pacific Islands” became the preferred usage.  “Oceania” was once popular in anthropological circles but not in general use.

[7] W.D. Forsyth, “South Pacific”, New Guinea and Australia, the Pacific and South-East Asia, VI (September-October, 1971), p 8.

[8] This organisation, founded in 1942, was expanded in 1946 to include the Netherlands and the United Kingdom and so comprised four of the SPC’s six member states.  See: Herbert Corkran, Patterns of International Cooperation in the Caribbean, 1942-1969 (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1970).

[9] This was an extraordinary political concession at the time since the Dutch were still fighting to preserve their hold over the entire colony.

[10] Early maps of the scope of the South Pacific Commission show Norfolk Island as included but this was later disputed by Australia when the Norfolk Government attempted to use this as a lever for greater autonomy from Australia.

[11] T.R. Smith, South Pacific Commission (Wellington: Price Milburn, 1972), p 46.

[12] In 1997, the SPC was renamed the Pacific Community but retained the familiar SPC acronym.

[13] The TTPI, the former Japanese mandated islands that were ceded by the UN to the US as a security trust in 1947, but could not be added to the SPC until control was transferred to civilian authority in 1951.

[14] Western Samoa renamed itself as Samoa in 1997 over the protests of American Samoa.

[15] For a useful review of the transition from colonial regional cooperation to post independence arrangements see:  Herbert Corkran, Patterns of International Cooperation in the Caribbean, 1942-1969 (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1970)

[16] Nauru did not join PIPA, as its only export commodity was phosphate.

[17] There would have been an internal complication with PIPA as constituted in 1971, however.  Niue and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony (GEIC) had associated themselves with PIPA’s Constitution although they were not independent or self-governing.

[18] PNG did not achieve full internal self-governing status until 1 December 1972.

[19] Agreement Establishing The South Pacific Bureau For Economic Co-Operation (With Annex) [1973]. The treat can be accessed at: http://www.paclii.org/pits/en/treaty_database/1973/2.html#fn1

[20] By 1971, PIPA included Niue and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony as members and by the February 1972 decisions of the Forum they were ineligible for membership in the Forum at that time.  Moreover Nauru had never been a member of PIPA.

[21] Article XI (4) of the SPEC Agreement:  “Other governments may, with the approval of the Forum, accede to this Agreement.”

[22] http://untreaty.un.org/unts/60001_120000/8/2/00014075.pdf

[23] South Pacific Bureau for Economic Cooperation, ‘More Effective Aid: A Report to the South Pacific Forum’, 1976, unpublished consultants’ report.

[24] I have dealt with some of the inconsistencies and complexities of the SRO issue in my "Regionalism and Nationalism", in K.R. Howe, Robert C. Kiste and Brij V. Lal (eds.), Tides of History: The Pacific Islands in the Twentieth Century, Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1994.

[25] The MOU served the purpose of doubts removal legislation in municipal law so that it confirmed that the original intention of CCOP/SOPAC's regional members to constitute it as an IGO.  Thus, CCOP/SOPAC was deemed technically not to be a "new" regional organisation and so not contrary to the SRO aspirations of the Forum.  The 1984 MOU and CCOP/SOPAC's existing Terms of Reference served as the body's foundation documents until a full treaty was drafted in 1989.

[26] The same approach was taken in 1989 when the 1984 MOU was replaced by a full treaty.  See: Agreement Establishing the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission [1990] at

http://www.paclii.org/pits/en/treaty_database/1990/7.html.  The 1989 review process renamed CCOP/SOPAC the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC).

[27] http://www.paclii.org/pits/en/treaty_database/1986/15.html.  However, the Convention’s scope also included Australia and New Zealand but none of the three metropolitan powers excluded from the Forum thus blending elements of the SPC and the Forum.  These decisions may well have been essential precursors to the compromises that led to SPOCC in 1988.

[28] SPREP therefore includes all the 22 Pacific Islands Countries (PICs) that are members of the SPC.  However, only four of the five metropolitan states of the SPC – Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States – joined the new IGO.  The United Kingdom, which then was restructuring its Pacific interests, decided to remain outside SPREP.

[29] These are currently listed as: the Forum Secretariat (formerly SPEC), the Pacific Community (formerly the SPC), the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), the Pacific Island Development Program (PIDP), the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), the University of the South Pacific (USP), the Fiji School of Medicine (FSchM), the South Pacific Board for Educational Assessment (SPBEA) and Pacific Power Association.  However, this list may no longer be accurate due to some national and regional institutional changes.

[30] The South Pacific Forum changed its name in October 2000 to the Pacific Islands Forum.

[31] Nic Maclellan, “New Caledonia Pursues Full Forum Membership”, Island Business, Vol. 36 (May 2010), pp 25-6.

[32] The 2005 Forum created the new category but its communiqué does not offer much on the distinctions between the new categories of Observer and Associate Member.  See: Thirty-Sixth Pacific Islands Forum Communiqué at: http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/spacific/regional_orgs/pif36_communique.html

[33] Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America [1951]; http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/new_zealand/anzus.pdf

[34] For an assessment of the linkage between ANZUS and the South Pacific region, see: R.A. Herr, "The Changing Geo-Politics of ANZUS: The Place of the South Pacific", World Review, March 1984, pp. 21-42.

[35] Ibid.

[36] The details and consequences of the 1976 ANZUS ministerial meeting are addressed in my "Regionalism, Strategic Denial and South Pacific Security", Journal of Pacific History, XXI (1986), pp. 170-182.

[37] The role of the two ANZAC states has always been ambiguous since they are outside the SPC’s operational ambit yet they as much bound by Forum decisions as the FICs.  Thus, have both the characteristics of owners (without being resident in the region) and stakeholders (as outsiders/donors).

[38] Michael Hamel-Green, The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty: a critical assessment, (Canberra: Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1990).

[39] The end of the Cold War changed strategic attitudes, however, and so, a decade later, France, the United Kingdom and the United States signed the three protocols that applied to them in a joint ceremony in March 1996.

[40] For the history of this dispute see: Stuart McMillan, Neither Confirm Nor Deny (Wellington, Allen & Unwin, 1987).

[41] These are the 1992 Honiara Declaration on Law Enforcement Cooperation, the 1997 Aitutaki Declaration on regional security, the 2000 Biketawa Declaration.

[42] See for example: Elsina Wainwright and Australian Strategic Policy Institute.  Our failing neighbour: Australia and the future of Solomon Islands, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Barton, A.C.T., 2003

[43] The Pacific Plan and details concerning it can be accessed at: http://www.forumsec.org.fj/pages.cfm/about-us/the-pacific-plan/

[44] Laisa Taga, “Forum’s Fiji ‘Plan’ Causing New Split”, Island Business, June 2009, p. 5

[45] http://www.forumsec.org/_resources/article/files/Biketawa%20Declaration.pdf

[46] See for example: Rowan Callick, “Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama orders Australian professor out”, The Australian, 5 November 2009.  Accessed at: http://www.news.com.au/world/fijian-prime-minister-frank-bainimarama-orders-australian-professor-out/story-e6frfkyi-1225794505333

[47] The “Agreed Principles of Co-operation among Independent Melanesian Countries signed in 1988 by Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as founding states members and the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste, (FLNKS) of New Caledonia as an observer self-identified their association as “sub-regional”.

[48] Fiji became an observer in the MSG from 1993.

[49] The Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuila’epa Sailele Malielegaoi, repeated these concerns in 2006 before the coup in Fiji later that year.  See: “MSG: trading on political capital and Melanesian solidarity”, Pacific Institute of Public Policy, Briefing Paper 02, July 2008, p.3.

http://www.google.com.au/search?client=safari&rls=en-us&q=MSG:+trading+on++political+capital+and++Melanesian+solidarity+Pacific+Institute&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&redir_esc=&ei=MuoiTajtGYqmcPzf-dgK

[50] See for example: “PNG urges Australia, NZ to support Fiji”, http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/png-urges-australia-nz-to-support-fiji-20091014-gxbt.html

[51] “Fiji PM says Pacific grouping to strengthen” Radio Australia, 30 October 2009, http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacbeat/stories/200910/s2728299.htm

Friday, 25 March 2011

Security and the Cartography of Pacific Islands Regionalism: The Origins and Evolution of Regional Identity

Richard Herr has taught at the University of Tasmania since his appointment in October 1972 and has held a variety of positions within the University. He is currently the academic coordinator for the Faculty of Law's Parliamentary Law, Practive and Procedure course. He earned a PhD in Political Science from Duke University and, during his academic career; he has written widely on aspects concerning Pacific Island Affairs. Professor Herr has served as a consultant to the Governments of the Pacific Islands region on a range of organizational issues for nearly three decades and most recently on the restoration of democracy in Fiji. He was awarded the Medal in the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2007 Queen's Birthday Honours List for "service to higher education". In 2002 he was presented with an AusAID Peacebuilder award for his work in the Solomon Islands.

This is an interview with Richard Herr on Australia's role in the Pacific:

Alternative (for readers in China)

In addition to the full text of the speech available below, we have provided a video of his speech at the conference "Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific" on Regionalism in the Pacific:

Alternative (for readers in China)

Security and the Cartography of Pacific Islands Regionalism: The Origins and Evolution of Regional Identity

Drawing the boundaries of a region would appear to be a relatively simple task.  However, 70 years of scholarship analysing the global growth in international regions suggest it is far from easy.  Bruce Russett demonstrated empirically in the 1960s, using rather sophisticated factor analysis, that there were no real “natural” geographic regions.[1] Nevertheless, regionalism as a concept implies geography as a central factor.  A doyen of international regional scholarship, Joseph Nye, makes the point that geography cannot be the sole criterion.  He has argued that the states that comprise a region need both to be geographically proximate and have achieved a high level of interdependence.[2] But, interdependence demands a third element – trust amongst the associated states.  Geographic proximity tends to encourage trust since it enables the routine interactions required to build interdependence.  The shared characteristics such as ethnicity, historical experience, economic ties and the like that often go into a regional definition usually involve proximity.  Yet, although military necessity is another frequently identified rationale for international cooperation, historically, it is as likely to divide contiguous states as unite them.  In brief, the concept of international regions remains definitionally challenging.  Perhaps, the only practical way to map the contours of an international region is to accept a tautology: a region is a region if its members say that it is.

 

There are complications, nevertheless, even with this temporisation.  Who has the authority to say what a region is?  Here one needs to differentiate between “owners” and “stakeholders” – that is, those that formally constitute a region and those with a significant interest in it.  The distinction is important as this paper argues that ownership of the concept of a Pacific Islands region was in dispute for much of the early years of the post-World War II era.   The issue was largely settled by decolonisation and the decision to retain the colonial era boundaries of the region.   However, the retention of dependencies as co-owners of the concept of the Pacific Islands region and the inclusion of two metropolitan powers within the formal ownership arrangements of the region have continued to create tensions and ambiguities between owners and stakeholders.  These tensions have existed primarily because the independent Island states have maintained the original boundaries of the region.  The emergence of new stakeholders and heightened internal conflicts have raised a second issue with the capacity of member states to decide the boundaries of the Pacific Islands region.  Heretofore, all interdependent arrangements within the Pacific Islands region with limited memberships have been deemed “sub-regional”.[3] This distinction is under pressure now and may well be the most serious challenge to the boundaries of the Pacific Islands region in its history.

Defining a Region

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Indigenous assertions that there was a pre-contact of Pacific Islands’ identity has been disputed despite myths of a “Pacific way” or some pan-Pacific brotherhood of peoples uniting all the Pacific Islands together.[4] Modern scholarship does not support extensive geographic awareness across the entire scope of the modern Pacific Islands region amongst pre-contact Pacific peoples.[5] This is not to deny the extensive voyaging and navigational skills of the pre-contact peoples in various parts of the modern Pacific Islands region, which was truly remarkable, provided some peoples with an in-depth knowledge of the area now considered to be the Pacific Islands region.[6] Rather, it is to say that the contours of the contemporary system were not derived from aboriginal foundations of knowledge or cooperation.  The simple fact is that, at least initially, the residents of the Pacific Islands did not define the scope of their neighbourhood.  The Pacific Islands region and its boundaries were, to a real extent, imposed by outsiders – not as a ghetto, perhaps, but for the convenience of the extra-regional powers nonetheless.  The political marvel is that the locals managed to embrace this concept and to make it their own.

 

The colonial experience was as divisive for Pacific Islanders as it was for peoples in other corners of a world riven by imperialism.  The essentially competitive nature of conquest and subjugation did not tend to promote international cooperation across imperial frontiers.  Nevertheless there were some internationally mitigating factors in the Pacific Islands’ area.  The British Empire, itself very extensive in this area, had its influence further extended by the cubs of the British lion – Australia and New Zealand – who also pursued territorial ambitions with parts of Oceania.  Regionally focused cooperation for administrative efficiency such as the Western Pacific High Commission and the Suva Medical School within the British Empire did promote awareness amongst the dependent peoples from separate colonies of each other but this was scarcely their purpose.  The Pacific Islands Monthly, perhaps, served as the most significant innovation regarding consciousness-raising for Pacific Islands regionalism in the colonial era.  A product of the Great Depression, this English language magazine published in Australia crossed imperial boundaries by satisfying a common need amongst the plantation elites across much of the British and French South Pacific for news of markets, economic trends and political developments.[7]

The Japanese invasion of the European Pacific colonies was an even more powerful, albeit negative, impetus for regional cooperation.  The threat united the Western powers – Australia, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States – in mutual defence of their security and for the protection of their Pacific territories.  The Southwest Pacific and South Pacific theatres of war generated integrated command structures and, consequently, the necessary arrangements for cooperation to prosecute the war.  This identity became especially important to Australia and New Zealand as the middle powers whose security interests were most directly threatened by the Japanese aggression.  Their concerns were to survive the war and so gave rise to the modern regional system.

 

The ANZACs’ Draft a Blueprint for the Region – Almost

The Anglo-American Caribbean Commission, a wartime measure to provide for economic and social needs of the island peoples in the two countries’ Caribbean dependencies, offered the template for a regional approach in the Pacific.[8] The two ANZAC states promoted the same basic idea at various post-war reconstruction planning sessions of the Allied Powers.  They made little headway with the other Pacific metropolitan powers that were more concerned with re-establishing their colonial control after the war.  After repeatedly being denied effective representation in the broader councils for Allied post-war planning, the two antipodean powers made their own demarche for regional reconstruction through the Agreement between Australia and New Zealand (ANZAC Pact) in February 1944.

This agreement proposed two post-war regional associations for the South Pacific.  The more important, from an Australian perspective, was one that provided for a regional security system that would stretch from Portuguese East Timor to French Polynesia.  This one would include all the Western colonial holdings (once these were restored to their metropoles) within its ambit. Seven stakeholders were identified for this association – the six allied powers plus Portugal, which was officially neutral during the war.  The second of the regional associations in the ANZAC Pact proposed a trust arrangement to promote the welfare of the dependent peoples.  This arrangement excluded the Netherlands and Portugal from participation and therefore their territories were excluded from the trusteeship region.  The omission of Portugal and the Netherlands was almost certainly due to an anthropological presumption that the dependent peoples of these two states were not genuinely South Pacific Islanders but belonged to Southeast Asia.

herr_pacific_submarine

The 1944 ANZAC Pact was a brave but almost futile declaration in terms of generating international support for its regionalist intentions.  It was only Australian persistence and a concession to abandon the security scheme that finally won a grudging willingness from the other metropolitan powers to meet in Canberra in February 1947 to discuss the ANZACs’ proposal for regional cooperation based on the welfare of the Pacific Islanders.  The 1944 Pact did not include either the Dutch or the Portuguese in the welfare body but the Netherlands was invited to the 1947 meeting when it promised not to include the bulk of its East Indies colony within the proposed body.  The Netherlands sought only to add West New Guinea, a territory with people indistinguishable from those across the border in Australia’s Papua New Guinea.[9] Portuguese involvement, on the other hand, appears not to have been reconsidered despite Australia’s debt of gratitude to the people of East Timor for their valiant assistance to Australian troops during the war.

The “South Seas Regional Commission Conference” made most of the critical decisions regarding the scope of the South Pacific region.  Given that the intention of the proposed body was to promote “the advancement and well-being of the native peoples” of the area, the first key decision was in inviting those imperial powers that Australia deemed had the appropriate indigenous peoples whose welfare was to be promoted.  Portugal was out but so too was Chile.   Chile administered the furthest outpost of Polynesia, the sparsely populated Easter Island.  Japan, which possessed much of Micronesia at the start of the war, was not included in the 1944 proposal for fairly obvious reasons.  Still, it is interesting to note that the native peoples of the Japanese Pacific Islands empire do not seemed to have been considered as eligible candidates even by the new American administration after the war.  In 1947, the United Nations passed control over these islands formally to the US but the American Government was allowed to treat these islands as a security asset, indeed, as had Japan under a League of Nations’ mandate.  In early 1947, the future of America’s new Micronesian islands were too uncertain to be deemed eligible for the proposed regional welfare agency.

The status of its Micronesian territories was not the only decision the United States had to make regarding its dependencies in the Pacific.   The Philippines was not considered at all as it had been promised independence and, in any case, it would have been regarded as ineligible on the same grounds as the Dutch East Indies by Australia and New Zealand.  Guam had been reclaimed but was still separate from the ambit of the proposed South Seas Regional Commission by the extensive expanse of the former Japanese Micronesian islands.  Hawaii was the largest Polynesian dependency in the Pacific but the local non-Polynesian population and Washington had plans for a future that did not include separation from the US.  Initially, therefore, the American delegation to Canberra brought only one territory to the table – the small Polynesian territory of American Samoa.

Australia was the only other participant to face territorial dilemmas regarding the geographic scope of the proposed region.  As with the US decision on Hawaii, the Australian Government gave short shrift to suggestions that the Aborigines of the Northern Territory or that the Torres Strait people should be included in the operational area of the South Seas Regional Commission.  More problematic was the case of Norfolk Island.  This tiny island between Australia and New Caledonia was peopled by the descendents of the Bounty mutineers who were relocated from Pitcairn in the 1850s.  Later, many of these returned to Pitcairn with the result that Britain included this miniscule territory within the proposed Commission’s scope.  The uncertain status of Norfolk Island as Australian domestic territory and the origins of its people saw Norfolk included within the defined region but not convincingly.[10]

There was one other territorial quibble at the South Seas Regional Commission Conference regarding the scope of the proposed region but one with profound political implications for the future development of South Pacific regionalism.  The standing of Tonga was disputed.  This ancient Polynesia kingdom had never been colonised.  By treaty, Tonga was a British protected state but it remained formally independent.  Thus, the Tongans were unwilling to be defined as a “dependent people” although the UK Government wanted them included in the organisation’s work programme.  Again, early maps of the Commission’s boundaries were instructive as they drew a dotted line across the bottom of the Tongan “enclave” to show that it was included in the SPC’s work programme while the solid line on the other three sides indicated Tonga was, to some extent, apart from the rest of the region.  The significance of this was not so much that Tonga was not being regarded as part of the region.  Rather, it was that Tonga was in the region.  Being eligible as a beneficiary of the SPC’s work programme, Tonga was deemed ineligible from ownership of the SPC’s region.[11]


The SPC Defines the Region – Ultimately?

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Although the ANZAC states did not achieve all their aims, the South Seas Regional Commission Conference did reach a successful conclusion from their perspective.  The six participating states signed a treaty (the Canberra Agreement) to establish the South Pacific Commission (SPC)[12] but without the mandate for political development that the two sponsoring states had wanted.  Thus, for the first time, the most of the Pacific Islands were united in a region-defining cooperative enterprise yet not one of their making. The 1947 Canberra Agreement delineated a region but it had not yet defined the Pacific Islands region.  This point may have come in 1951 when the SPC reached its greatest extent following the successful bid by the United States to add Guam and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) to the SPC’s ambit.[13] At this point, the South Pacific region stretched from the Northern Marianas to Norfolk Island along one axis and from the Pitcairn Islands to West New Guinea on the other.

This geographic span lasted scarcely more than a decade.  In 1962, the Dutch were expelled from West New Guinea and withdrew from the SPC.  The Indonesians were not of a mind to succeed the Dutch vacancy in the SPC on behalf of West New Guinea (renamed West Irian) nor did any SPC member encourage Jakarta to pursue the possibility.  Nonetheless, the loss of the Dutch territory profoundly influenced the course of Pacific Islands regionalism.  The idea that external decisions could decide who was or was not a Pacific Islander shocked some Island elites who were becoming more self-conscious of a regional identity due to both the interactions available through the SPC and the ‘winds of change” beginning to stir across the South Pacific.  The SPC had made provision for a triennial advisory meeting of Islanders through an organ called the South Pacific Conference.  The first of these met in 1950 and there were five including the ill-fated 1962 Conference in Pago Pago, American Samoa where the West New Guinea delegates wept bitter tears in the knowledge they would never sit together with those that they had come to regard as fellow Pacific Islanders.

The second critical definitional influence on South Pacific regionalism in 1962 was the independence of Western Samoa.[14] As the first dependent territory to reclaim its sovereignty, Samoa opened a number of problematic issues about the nature of the SPC as a regional organisation.  The capacity of a “non-dependent” people to continue to benefit from the work programme of the SPC was fairly easily resolved in Samoa’s favour.  Apia’s unexpected desire to accede to the Canberra Agreement, however, provoked a three-year test of wills that transformed the concept of ownership of the region.  When Samoa succeeded in joining the Commission in 1965, the entire exclusionary approach to membership in the SPC and, with it, external ownership of the regional identity, was overturned.

herr4

From 1965, the SPC’s Western members were confronted with a two-pronged challenge to their control of South Pacific regionalism.  Decolonisation would increasingly add to the number of states with the eligibility to follow Samoa’s path into formal Commission membership through accession to the Canberra Agreement.  The second prong led to reform of the Conference to allow the dependent territories to have a greater say over the organisation’s work programme through this organ.  Regionalism and regional identity would never again be the preserve of extra-regional states.  The authentic boundaries of the Pacific Islands region would only be drawn by the inhabitants of the region not by those outside who claimed to know what was best for them.

 

The Forum and the SRO – A Need to Redraw the Regional Boundaries?

The dramatic failure to reform the SPC at the South Pacific Conference meeting in Suva in late 1970 was a critical turning point in regional affairs.  It forced a fundamental shift in Pacific Islander attitudes toward the nature of South Pacific regionalism but, critically, not the definition of the region’s boundaries.  In this regard, the Pacific Islands pursued a different regional path than that taken by the Caribbean Islands when confronted with the same political crossroads the Pacific Islands faced in 1970.  In the process of morphing from the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission into the Caribbean Commission the concept of the region shrank in the minds of the “owners” of the regional identity.  Its boundaries were redrawn.  The perceived boundaries of the Caribbean region were diminished in scope by the exclusion of non-independent territories.  The concept of an integrated Caribbean regional system has never recovered the breadth of the Commission had in the 1950s.[15]

Pacific Islands’ regionalism could have opted for the exclusionary road taken by the Caribbean states but it did not.  There were strands of development that might have taken it down the Caribbean path.  Five countries within the SPC region became independent or self-governing by the time of the 1970 South Pacific Conference – Western Samoa, Cook Islands, Nauru, Tonga and Fiji.  Four of these countries established a body in 1964, outside the SPC framework, called the Pacific Islands Producers Association (PIPA), which served as a minor marketing arrangement mainly with New Zealand.[16] PIPA provided a mechanism to regroup after the disappointment of the Suva Conference.  Had it become the vehicle for herr5independent political cooperation, the Pacific may well have followed the Caribbean path.[17] A second important influence was the desire to exclude the colonial powers that had blocked political reform in the SPC.  This attitude toward the colonial powers in the Caribbean was a significant factor in the exclusionary approach taken by the independent states there.

However, the four independent members of PIPA members in consultation with Nauru recognised their very real limitations as international powers, and so adopted a more pragmatic approach to creating regional capacity.  Australia and New Zealand were invited to join the five independent and self-governing states in a new political association.  This pragmatism went so far as to ask New Zealand to host what was to be the first meeting of the South Pacific Forum in Wellington in August 1971.  Clearly, the Pacific Island states did not want to exclude all the metropolitan powers from their next stage in South Pacific regionalism even though a significant rationale for the initiative was to exclude some; those powers – France, the United Kingdom and the United States – perceived to be obstructionist.  More importantly, the Island member of the South Pacific Forum (or “FICs” as an acronym for Forum Island countries) did not want to exclude the territories that were ineligible for membership in the Forum even, or perhaps more correctly, especially those territories under the administration of the metropolitan powers that were excluded.  Moreover, none of the members of the new South Pacific Forum members resigned from the Commission or the Conference subsequently.  Thus, from the very outset of the Forum arrangement, the conceptual boundaries of the region remained the geographic scope of the SPC.

There were several reasons why the operational scope of the South Pacific region was not redefined with the advent of the Forum.  Perhaps the most important reason was that even the Forum’s Island members had not given up on reforming the SPC.   Just how this long-term aspiration for reform was to be expressed in the context of the new Forum relations was rather inchoate for several years. In part, this stemmed from some initial confusion as to the Forum’s real purpose as demonstrated by Australia’s faux pas in sending Charles Barnes, the Minister for External Territories, to the first Forum meeting in Wellington as its representative.  Canberra appeared to inadvertently reveal a colonial bias contrary to the new direction that Pacific Islands’ regionalism was taking.   On the other hand the three excluded metropoles were generally relaxed regarding the political initiative.  They tended to see the regional scheme as a localised development that was largely irrelevant to the future of their territories in the South Pacific.  This attitude might have been expected from France and the US but is less explicable in the case of the UK since the Forum, in 1971, was made up entire of FICs with Commonwealth connections.  The developments at the next meeting of the Forum, however, clarified some of the risks and challenges posed to the established pattern of regional relations by the establishment of the Forum.

Australia convened the second meeting of the Forum in Canberra and, correcting the error in Wellington, Prime Minister William McMahon hosted his fellow Heads of Government.  A number of questions were resolved at the Canberra meeting that bore significantly on the future of regionalism in the Pacific Islands.  The first was a decision not to create the Forum as a legal entity in its own right.  The model chosen was a direct crib from the Commonwealth of Nations’ Heads of Government Meetings.  It was to be a club that operated on club rules rather than international legal obligations.  So, what were the rules for entry to this rather exclusive regional club?  An Australian proposal to invite Papua New Guinea (PNG) to join the Forum at its next meeting resulted in a “full and frank” debate on membership.  PNG was on the verge of self-government[18] and, Australia argued that this would the same status as the Cook Islands, which was a founding member of the Forum.  Fiji argued against the nomination on the grounds that, unlike the Cooks, self-government was not the “final” status for PNG and so there would be many uncertainties as to PNG’s capacity within the Forum until it settled its independence issues.  A compromise was reached that offered PNG observer status in the Forum until independence when it would be eligible for full membership.

The ambiguities in concept of “eligibility” for membership in the Forum were also apparent in the criteria for the intergovernmental organisation (IGO) established at the second Forum.[19] Despite having PIPA, at least potentially, available as an economic IGO to be revamped to suit the Forum’s needs, the second Forum agreed to establish a new, OECD-style economic advisory body to be known as the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Cooperation (SPEC).[20] Article XI (2) of the SPEC Agreement states:

The signature of a member government shall not be taken as extending the rights and obligations set forth in this Agreement to the territories for whose international relations the member government is responsible.

The intention was to ensure the compromise with regard to PNG’s membership would not be undone in SPEC.  Significantly, nothing in the SPEC Agreement specified the operational scope of SPEC; only that its membership would be determined by the Forum.[21] Yet, it was commonly understood at time that recruitment into the Forum and into SPEC would only be from the Pacific Island countries (PICs) of the SPC.  This “understanding” soon set in train a contest for ownership of the agreed concept of the region – an extended debate that was to become known as the “single regional organisation” (SRO) issue.

A confluence of interests following the formation of the Forum merged the ANZAC powers’ desire for greater economic efficiencies in aid to a region that absorbed very large shares of their overseas assistance and the FICs’ desire for greater control of the regional agenda.  However, the locking of horns over where ultimate control of the Pacific Islands region rested – SPC or Forum – was only possible because proponents on both sides agreed there was only one region.   SPEC provided the catalyst for the first shots in the debate.  SPEC’s inaugural Executive Secretary, Mahe Tupouniua, had been only the second “commoner” to attain ministerial office in the Kingdom of Tonga.  He applied his redoubtable energy, intellect and drive to making a success of SPEC.  In March 1974, less than a year after SPEC was established, it absorbed PIPA’s functions and PIPA itself was terminated.[22] The realisation that the functions of one regional organisation could be transferred to another was undoubtedly a critical inspiration for the SRO.  The report of SPEC’s 1976 review of regional aid delivery found that better coordination of aid would produce more effective aid enabling the donors to achieve the efficacy they desired and the Island polities would secure improved outcomes.[23] The perceived duplication of effort between SPEC and the SPC interfered with achieving these efficiencies.  Thus, it was argued, aid impacts could be enhanced if the two organisations were merged.

The SRO issue did not influence in any material way the contours of the Pacific Islands regional borders since it was predicated on keeping those of the SPC as they were.   Rather, it was the fact that the Forum accepted these boundaries as valid that is important for the present argument.  Basically, the FICs sought to use the Forum as a parallel vehicle to pursue the decolonisation of the SPC in order to preserve the integrity of the region as defined by the SPC.  Yet confusion regarding the SRO concept and, perhaps, a lack of a real commitment to the objective were evident almost immediately the debate was joined.  In 1978, the Forum members established the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) as an independent IGO despite officially maintaining a need for a single regional organisation.  The contradiction was not lost on critics of the SRO proposal but there was no slackening in the efforts by the proponents of an SRO for another decade.[24]

While the SRO imbroglio did not involve a reconsideration of the outer boundaries of the Pacific Islands’ region it did throw up some interesting conundrums relating to internal stakeholders and ownership of the concept of the region.  Perhaps the first test of ownership versus being a legitimate stakeholder after the decision regarding PNG’s eligibility for Forum membership arose in connection with Guam in 1984.  Guam was a participant in a project searching for hydrocarbons amongst the Pacific's atolls managed by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) through a Committee for the Coordination of Offshore Prospecting/South Pacific (CCOP/SOPAC).  Despite the SRO issue, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 1984 to commission CCOP/SOPAC as a regional IGO.  All of the body's members were Forum members except for Guam yet none of the other participants wanted Guam excluded under the new arrangements.[25] A bit of legal legerdemain and a willingness of member states to look the other way allowed Guam to remain a stakeholder in, albeit not a co-owner of, the regional organisation.  Guam was included in the MOU’s preamble as a participating member but not listed amongst the signatories to the MOU.[26]

The membership complications of the SRO issue were perhaps most spectacularly revealed in the resolution of the status of SPREP.  A South Pacific “Regional Seas” project of the United Nations Environment Program became a subject of the SRO rivalry.  The compromise was a hybrid inter-institutional administrative arrangement to manage the South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP).  The SPC housed the program and provided the secretariat services while SPEC chaired the SPREP executive.  Spurred by the increasing funding available for environmental projects in the 1980s, the Forum sought exclusive control of SPREP.  However, as an SPC based program its activities reached across the entire ambit of the SPC region.  If the Forum were to incorporate SPREP as an IGO within its family of agencies, this would alienate the non-FIC Islands from its work.  Such exclusion was unacceptable to these territories. The Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region [1986] accentuated the challenge posed by the non-FIC Island participants in SPREP by including all the PICs within the scope of the Convention.[27] Additionally there would be the probable loss of financial support from those metropolitan SPC members (France, UK and US) that would not be in the Forum arrangement.  Finally the international community would have had some doubts about a regional program that defined the Pacific Islands region more narrowly than SPREP's original area of coverage.  Yet again, another compromise proved necessary and, again, inclusiveness at the regional level won out.  A 1991 ministerial meeting of SPREP participants agreed to reconstitute SPREP as an IGO with a headquarters in Samoa and retaining a membership essentially the same as the SPC’s South Pacific Conference.[28]

The SRO debate ended essentially with the creation of the South Pacific Organisations Coordinating Committee (SPOCC) in 1988.  Establishment of SPOCC was intended to achieve greater technical and administrative efficiencies through easier collaboration between member agencies and, hopefully, to avoid the charge of duplication and waste, which was the ostensible rationale for the SRO proposal.  SPOCC was misnamed, however, to some extent since it did not have the power to coordinate the affairs of its member agencies.[29] Rather it served as an advisory arrangement to the parent bodies through their secretariats.   Further evidence of the commitment to inclusiveness within the boundaries of the region regardless of political status was given when SPOCC changed its name to the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) in 1999.  This was, in part, a consequence of a couple of important name changes to delete "South Pacific" from some regional agency names.  “South Pacific" was seen by some as inappropriate because the region's ambit included islands above the Equator and so was a slight to them.  This issue had proved a challenge to the SPC from the early 1960s but no consensus could be found as an alternative until Dr Bob Dun, then Secretary-General of the SPC, forced renaming the South Pacific Commission as the "Pacific Community" in 1997.[30]

Resolving the SRO issue may have helped to promote some more liberal inclusiveness within the Forum.  New Caledonia (1999) and French Polynesia (2004) were admitted into the Forum as observers despite no general acceptance that they were clearly on a path to a final political status that achieved at least effective internal self-government if not full independence. France that had lobbied long along with these territories for their inclusion and, in part, this was a reward to Paris for finally ending nuclear testing in the Pacific in 1996 and the accords setting out the options for New Caledonia’s future.[31] The two French territories were given a closer relationship with the Forum in 2006 through the creation of an “Associate Member” status.  At the same Forum, another French territory, Wallis and Futuna, was given admission as an Observer.[32] This tranche of expansion in the Forum’s participation provided the first partial, but very minor, tweaking of the regional boundaries since the SPC’s boundaries reached their zenith in the early 1950s.  Essentially at Canberra’s insistence, the Forum granted Timor-Leste “special observer status” in 2002, which was subsequently confirmed as an Observer under the new rules.


Security and the Future of Pacific Islands Regionalism

What security gave in creating the contours of the contemporary Pacific Islands region it may someday take away.  As has been argued, the pursuit of security played an integral part in creating the Pacific Islands region albeit not directly.  The ANZAC Pact of 1944 proposed two differently configured regions for the South Pacific.  The military alliance advanced in the 1944 treaty did not eventuate but the participation of the other four Western powers in the SPC in 1947 was intended to reassure Australia and New Zealand of their cooperation in regional affairs with the ANZACs despite the absence of a formal defence arrangement.  The value of the SPC for Australian and New Zealand security ambitions proved inadequate and the US had to find a more direct defence association with the deepening of the Cold War in the early 1950s.  In order to secure ANZAC support for a “soft” peace treaty with Japan to strengthen Cold War containment aims, the United States negotiated a defence alliance with Australia and New Zealand in 1951.[33] The ANZUS Pact was neither as regionally comprehensive as the arrangement proposed in the 1944 ANZAC Pact nor was it as strong as the NATO structure for which Australia argued.  Nevertheless, it was a defence alliance and it did provide a regional coverage.[34] The requirement to consult amongst the treaty parties was activated by Article V of the ANZUS Treaty, which held:

an armed attack on any of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of any of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”

By the terms of the treaty, the geographic reach of its operation was potentially anywhere in the Pacific where troops or any vessel with an ANZUS member state flag might be.  However, the practical geographic extent was the homelands and Pacific dependencies of the three member states.  This was underscored when Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies apparently asked the US Administration of John Kennedy in the early 1960s if the ANZUS provision for military assistance would be triggered should Canberra go to the aid of the embattled Netherlands in West New Guinea.  The response did not encourage any expectation of help if Australian troops came under fire in an engagement outside Australian territory.[35]

The American commitment to ANZUS really only became more than minor and largely ceremonial with the advent of the US intervention in Viet Nam in the mid 1960s.  Annual ministerial consultations, shared defence facilities and joint manoeuvres emerged to draw the three states parties together for perceived mutual security but the ANZUS focus was in Southeast Asia rather than the Pacific Islands.  It was not until 1976 that ANZUS discovered a need for a regional string to its Pacific security planning.  The number of territories achieving independence had reached a critical mass as evidenced by the creation of the South Pacific Forum in 1971.  The significance of this continuing wave of independence for Western security interests struck home rather dramatically (some might argue, over dramatically) in April 1976 when the Soviet Union established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Tonga.  The ANZUS Council of Ministers meeting in June of that year proposed inter alia to address the Soviet challenge by promoting regional solidarity amongst the generally pro-Western FICs.  Regional coherence was made a critical plank in what came to be known “strategic denial”, an approach that was basically an extension of the general American policy of containment against the Soviet Union.[36] Whether strategic denial actually worked can be debated but there was every expectation at the time in the three ANZUS capitals that regional solidarity was the key to preventing the USSR from exploiting the individual weaknesses of the Pacific microstates.

Significantly, while the ANZUS regional strategy did not depend on the SPC’s regional boundaries, broader Western security interests for the entire region did interlock to some extent within the SPC’s operational ambit.  NATO linked the security interests of the three non-Forum metropolitan powers in the region – France, United Kingdom and United States – although not directly the mutual protection of their Pacific possessions.  France and the UK were individually responsible for their territories but the US enjoyed some shared alliance support through the ANZUS Treaty.  However, the critical issue at the time was not the dependencies but the independent FICs that had the capacity to act self-interestedly and autonomously with any extra-regional power they might choose.  Thus, the ANZUS regional approach to strategic denial relied on the privileged position that Australia and New Zealand occupied in the Forum as something more than just key stakeholders.[37] Their hegemony in this powerful regional association and the application of soft power rather than military-based relations were meant to reduce the sort of aberrant behaviour amongst the FICs that could lead to a Pacific “Cuba”.

Not without irony, the assumption of ANZAC hegemony and the coincidence of Western security interests was challenged in following decade by the same division that provoked the split within the SPC leading to the creation of the Forum.  This was the cleavage separating the nuclear powers and the non-nuclear powers.  By the mid 1980s, Labour parties beset by intra-party divisions over security participation with nuclear capable states governed both Australia and New Zealand.  Partially as a response to these pressures the two agreed to promote a regional nuclear weapons free zone in the South Pacific.  The FICs were happy to embrace the resurrection of a concept that enjoyed their support at the very instigation of the Forum.  The Forum states signed the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (SPNFZ or Treaty of Rarotonga) in August 1985 at their annual leaders meeting.[38] The ANZAC powers found to their chagrin that they had miscalculated the effect of SPNFZ on the permanent five members of the UN Security Council.  The two had hoped that SPNFZ would eliminate any non-Western nuclear interest in the region while cementing the conventional weapons predominance of the West in the Pacific Islands.  In the event, the PRC and the USSR quickly associated themselves with SPNFZ by signing the appropriate protocols to the treaty but the three Western powers rejected the treaty and its protocols.[39]

Tensions within ANZUS over regional policy were intensified at this time by other factors.  New Zealand’s domestic anti-nuclear weapons policy alienated the US when Wellington insisted that Washington identify nuclear equipped vessels before allowing port access.  The breach had New Zealand suspended from ANZUS activities when Australia supported the US against New Zealand.[40] Unrelated but paralleling these developments, Kiribati lost patience with the US over its refusal to accept coastal state management of the highly migratory species of tuna, which constituted a principal known natural resource.  In August 1985, it signed a fisheries access agreement with the USSR.  The agreement only lasted a year and was not renewed due to a Soviet Oceanic Fisheries Department demand for reduced fees.  Vanuatu had acquired reputation as a somewhat aberrant actor within the region following its independence in 1980.  It accepted relations with Cuba and Libya, presumed Soviet surrogates, and the ni-Vanuatu Government signed a fisheries access arrangement with the USSR shortly after the i-Kiribati agreement lapsed.  Vanuatu took a leading role in the region opposing colonialism and nuclear weapons, especially testing by one of its erstwhile administering powers – France.  Thus, even as the Cold War was on the verge of collapse, the value of the regional security consensus within the Forum was being sorely tested.  Whether it would have been viable had Cold War tensions continued is moot but the Western powers were making adjustments in aid, fisheries policy and the like to maintain a soft power capacity for significant influence within the Pacific Islands region to maintain influence.

The perceived security value of Pacific Islands’ regionalism changed with the end of the Cold War.  From 1976 to the end of the 1980s, regionalism served as a vehicle to help maintain some Western security interests.  This is not to say that no FIC security interests were served.  There was some mutuality; some perceived physical security benefits for the FICs as in SPNFZ; and, most importantly for the Islands, some benefits with economic and human security through agencies such as the FFA.  Nevertheless, for nearly a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was a decline in external security interest as Western powers such as the US and UK began reducing their effort in the region.  Even Russia, which had finally secured a diplomatic mission (in Port Moresby) just before the collapse of the USSR, found little reason to stay.  There were security issues such as money laundering, the sale of passports, resource poaching, flags of convenience and the like but the international community generally left such issues to bilateral or intra-regional action.  The Forum approved programs to strengthen policing capacity, cooperation on information and intelligence sharing; transport and communications security and the like from the early 1990s.  A Forum Regional Security Committee was formed in 1992 essentially to coordinate the efforts against transnational crime.  Throughout the decade of the 1990s, a series of declarations were drafted by the Forum to strengthen the rule of law and security established a political framework for enhancing the collective regional capacity to assist individual FIC members to meet their sovereign responsibilities with regard to internal security.[41]

A fundamental change occurred following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  International perceptions of the risks posed by fragile and failing states rewrote security analysts’ assessments of the potential exploitation of the vulnerabilities of the Pacific Islands.[42] A regional response regained favour with the two ANZAC powers – this time to deal the non-state threat of terrorism.  Again, the Forum was the principal instrument.  At the urging of its Australasian members, the Forum responded with the 2002 Nasonini Declaration on regional security and terrorism and expanded the work of the Forum Regional Security Committee to include terrorism within its remit.  The Australian and New Zealand Governments also strongly supported relevant action through other regional agencies.  This included the SPC’s Regional Maritime Programme, which aided the implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.  Through chairing CROP, the Forum was able to influence the entire region but this was enhanced from 2005 with the adoption of the “Pacific Plan”.[43] The Plan was endorsed by all agencies and their members (more or less) to rationalise regional institutional architecture and to promote regional integration in order to strengthen state capacity across the region.  The strengthening of the role of the Forum would also further entrench the position of Australia and New Zealand in the regional system as non-resident co-owners.

 

It is beyond the scope of the present paper to detail in full the speculation presently circulating regarding the pressures within the Forum arising from internal security concerns.  Yet, it is possible that the new tensions could actually redraw the boundaries of the Pacific Islands region.  The Pacific Plan’s roadmap to closer regional integration has provoked concerns as to the hegemonic role that Australia and New Zealand play within the present regional architecture. However, it is the 2000 Biketawa Declaration that has raised the spectre of a serious pushing these concerns to the level of being a threat to the Forum as a “regional” organisation.[44] The Biketawa Declaration was a Forum response to coups in both Fiji and the Solomon Islands in 2000.  By it, the Forum leaders committed themselves inter alia to, “upholding democratic processes and institutions”. The Declaration also included options for sanctions including “if necessary, targeted measures.”[45] The application of sanctions in support of the principles of the Biketawa Declaration against the post-2006 coup Government in Fiji has become increasingly controversial. The Government of Commodore Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, in power since a military coup in December 2006, has taken particular exception to the use of the Forum to impose sanctions against it seeing Australia and New Zealand as the principal instigators of these sanctions.[46] Bainimarama therefore has appealed increasingly to regional neighbours to resist the ANZAC influence in the Forum.

 

Bainimarama has turned to the sub-regional association, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), as the mechanism for his regional fight back.   The MSG was formed in 1988 by three Melanesian states to express solidarity for the decolonisation of the French territory of New Caledonia.[47] Fiji joined the MSG in 1996[48] and, in 1988, the four states signed the Agreement Establishing The Melanesian Spearhead Group association, which gave the group legal personality and so transformed it into an IGO.  There is an historical irony in contemporary Fiji’s use of the MSG against the Forum. Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, Fiji’s first Prime Minister and the acknowledged architect of PIC regionalism, feared that sub-regionalism might destroy the broader regional system.  This fear looms much larger now as a real prospect with the divide between the Forum and MSG over Fiji driving the wedge between the two levels of association.[49] Bainimarama’s appeals to the MSG appear to have elicited some very positive responses.  For example, all the MSG leaders visited Fiji shortly after the 2009 Forum and expressed their support for Bainimarama despite having endorsed the decision at the Forum to continue the sanctions against Fiji.  There have been a number of similar and important gestures since.[50]

Fiji’s Prime Minister may have recently pushed the MSG wedge to the point where it may actually fracture the region.   In preparing to host the 2010 MSG meeting, where he would become MSG Chair, Bainimarama indicated that he would invite FICs not members of the MSG to attend as observers, the “MSG Plus” arrangement.[51] The prospect that, as Chair, he would be able to use the MSG as a vehicle to re-create the Forum without Australia and New Zealand raised such concern in Canberra and Wellington that steps were taken to prevent Fiji from taking over the Chair.  Whatever the actual involvement in the decision by then ni-Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei’s decision to cancel the 2010 MSG leaders meeting, Bainimarama reacted strongly to perceived Australian and New Zealand involvement by expelling their senior representatives in Suva.  Natapei’s decision was repudiated by other MSG countries soon afterwards and, when Natapei lost the prime ministership, arrangements were made within the MSG to apologise and return the Chair to Fiji.  The Solomon Islands hosted a ceremony of apology where the Chair was passed the Solomon Islands, which then immediately passed it on to Fiji.  Whether Bainimarama will now continue to pursue the  ”MSG Plus” option is open but, if he does, the older concept of the Pacific Islands region may not survive the challenge.  It seems unlikely that “MSG Plus” could replace the Pacific Islands Forum even though it could preserve the long-standing boundaries of the Pacific Islands region.  Nevertheless, there could little doubt that a viable MSG Plus and an attempt to retain the Forum intact would revive many of the features of the older SRO issue.

herr8


Conclusion

Mapping the boundaries of the Pacific Islands region has been a long odyssey and one that continues today.  This cartographic exercise is interesting not so much because the boundaries have been in dispute.  They have not been for sometime.  Indeed, the only real change in the last 60 years has been the exclusion of West New Guinea (1962) and the very recent, and very limited, attempt to include Timor-Leste.  Rather the tensions have risen from defending the agreed boundaries.  Initially, these stemmed from disputed ownership of the region.  Extra-regional colonial powers created the region but the residents of the region wanted to take possession of it through a process of decolonisation.  The desire for complete ownership of the region was so strong amongst the Island peoples that, even when it became clear that decolonisation would not deliver absolute ownership of the region to them, they refused to redefine the boundaries of the Pacific Islands region in the way the Caribbean peoples had Caribbean regionalism.

Creation of the South Pacific Forum became a significant test of what was the authentic Pacific Islands region.  The inclusion of Australia and New Zealand created an anomaly in the distinction between owners and stakeholders.  The two Western states clearly constituted a special category of stakeholders but, without changing the region’s boundaries, they became owners as well. This imposes a sort of political schizophrenia on Pacific Islands regionalism since in the case of the FFA and SPNFZ boundaries; for example, parts of the two are included within the region’s operational ambit.  The single regional organisation row both demonstrated that the SPC’s boundaries were the region and that the FICs were not prepared to concede ownership rights even to those PICs that had not yet secured control of their own destinies.  Since the FICs were unable to relax their commitment to either tenet, they had to temporise, which they did through the establishment of SPOCC (now CROP).  This has allowed the continuation of “two speed” regional integration across the expanse of the Pacific Islands.

Recently, issues of internal security (as opposed to the external security concerns that served as a catalyst for creating the region) have threatened the coherence and, possibly, the regional system itself.  The attempt to strengthen state capacity through regional mechanisms, especially the Pacific Plan, has generated increasing tensions with regard to Fiji since the December 2006 military coup.  Never before had regional machinery been used punitively against a member and Fiji, not alone, has felt this to be a misuse of the regional system.  The Government of Frank Bainimarama has been resisting this pressure by accentuating the anomalous role that Australia and New Zealand have in the Pacific Islands regional system.  Fiji’s attempt to reinvent a Forum without the participation of the two Western powers was only partially successful but the contest of wills over the MSG Plus proposal seems destined to leave serious scars regionally.  Being supplemented by closer ties with Asia and the promotion of other exclusionary mechanisms such as the Pacific Small Islands Developing States group (PSIDS) at the United Nations, Fiji has thrown down a diplomatic gauntlet that might appear to be only an ownership/stakeholder issue.  However, the MSG is an ethnically based association, which cannot remain true to its origins and provide a comfortable home to Polynesian states such as Samoa.  Should the current divisions intensify, one option may well be for the MSG to abandon its “sub-regional” status and claim full regional standing.  Where this would leave the Pacific Islands region is anyone’s guess but it would force a very serious redrafting of the regional atlas of the Pacific Islands.



[1] Bruce M. Russett, International Regions and the International System: A Study in Political Ecology (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1967)

[2] Joseph Nye (ed.) International Regionalism, (Boston: Little Brown and Co. 1968), xii.

[3] As will be addressed below, the membership of the Pacific Islands Forum and other agencies are not conterminous with the functional scope of the Pacific Islands region but they are not regarded as sub-regional since their potential membership pool is all within the region.

[4] This was a common theme in the early years.  See, for examples: “Twenty-fifth Anniversary Messages”, South Pacific Bulletin, XXII (October 2, 1972), p 19.

[5] Gordon R. Lewthwaite, “Geographic Knowledge of the Pacific Peoples” in Herman R. Friis (ed), The Pacific Basin (New York: American Geographical Society, 1967), pp 51-86.

[6] Naming the region has been somewhat more difficult than identifying its reach.  The “South Seas” was in common use from the advent of extensive European contact until the early/mid 20th Century.   From the end of WW II until the late 1990s, the region was generally referred to as the “South Pacific” when the term “Pacific Islands” became the preferred usage.  “Oceania” was once popular in anthropological circles but not in general use.

[7] W.D. Forsyth, “South Pacific”, New Guinea and Australia, the Pacific and South-East Asia, VI (September-October, 1971), p 8.

[8] This organisation, founded in 1942, was expanded in 1946 to include the Netherlands and the United Kingdom and so comprised four of the SPC’s six member states.  See: Herbert Corkran, Patterns of International Cooperation in the Caribbean, 1942-1969 (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1970).

[9] This was an extraordinary political concession at the time since the Dutch were still fighting to preserve their hold over the entire colony.

[10] Early maps of the scope of the South Pacific Commission show Norfolk Island as included but this was later disputed by Australia when the Norfolk Government attempted to use this as a lever for greater autonomy from Australia.

[11] T.R. Smith, South Pacific Commission (Wellington: Price Milburn, 1972), p 46.

[12] In 1997, the SPC was renamed the Pacific Community but retained the familiar SPC acronym.

[13] The TTPI, the former Japanese mandated islands that were ceded by the UN to the US as a security trust in 1947, but could not be added to the SPC until control was transferred to civilian authority in 1951.

[14] Western Samoa renamed itself as Samoa in 1997 over the protests of American Samoa.

[15] For a useful review of the transition from colonial regional cooperation to post independence arrangements see:  Herbert Corkran, Patterns of International Cooperation in the Caribbean, 1942-1969 (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1970)

[16] Nauru did not join PIPA, as its only export commodity was phosphate.

[17] There would have been an internal complication with PIPA as constituted in 1971, however.  Niue and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony (GEIC) had associated themselves with PIPA’s Constitution although they were not independent or self-governing.

[18] PNG did not achieve full internal self-governing status until 1 December 1972.

[19] Agreement Establishing The South Pacific Bureau For Economic Co-Operation (With Annex) [1973]. The treat can be accessed at: http://www.paclii.org/pits/en/treaty_database/1973/2.html#fn1

[20] By 1971, PIPA included Niue and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony as members and by the February 1972 decisions of the Forum they were ineligible for membership in the Forum at that time.  Moreover Nauru had never been a member of PIPA.

[21] Article XI (4) of the SPEC Agreement:  “Other governments may, with the approval of the Forum, accede to this Agreement.”

[22] http://untreaty.un.org/unts/60001_120000/8/2/00014075.pdf

[23] South Pacific Bureau for Economic Cooperation, ‘More Effective Aid: A Report to the South Pacific Forum’, 1976, unpublished consultants’ report.

[24] I have dealt with some of the inconsistencies and complexities of the SRO issue in my "Regionalism and Nationalism", in K.R. Howe, Robert C. Kiste and Brij V. Lal (eds.), Tides of History: The Pacific Islands in the Twentieth Century, Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1994.

[25] The MOU served the purpose of doubts removal legislation in municipal law so that it confirmed that the original intention of CCOP/SOPAC's regional members to constitute it as an IGO.  Thus, CCOP/SOPAC was deemed technically not to be a "new" regional organisation and so not contrary to the SRO aspirations of the Forum.  The 1984 MOU and CCOP/SOPAC's existing Terms of Reference served as the body's foundation documents until a full treaty was drafted in 1989.

[26] The same approach was taken in 1989 when the 1984 MOU was replaced by a full treaty.  See: Agreement Establishing the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission [1990] at

http://www.paclii.org/pits/en/treaty_database/1990/7.html.  The 1989 review process renamed CCOP/SOPAC the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC).

[27] http://www.paclii.org/pits/en/treaty_database/1986/15.html.  However, the Convention’s scope also included Australia and New Zealand but none of the three metropolitan powers excluded from the Forum thus blending elements of the SPC and the Forum.  These decisions may well have been essential precursors to the compromises that led to SPOCC in 1988.

[28] SPREP therefore includes all the 22 Pacific Islands Countries (PICs) that are members of the SPC.  However, only four of the five metropolitan states of the SPC – Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States – joined the new IGO.  The United Kingdom, which then was restructuring its Pacific interests, decided to remain outside SPREP.

[29] These are currently listed as: the Forum Secretariat (formerly SPEC), the Pacific Community (formerly the SPC), the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), the Pacific Island Development Program (PIDP), the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), the University of the South Pacific (USP), the Fiji School of Medicine (FSchM), the South Pacific Board for Educational Assessment (SPBEA) and Pacific Power Association.  However, this list may no longer be accurate due to some national and regional institutional changes.

[30] The South Pacific Forum changed its name in October 2000 to the Pacific Islands Forum.

[31] Nic Maclellan, “New Caledonia Pursues Full Forum Membership”, Island Business, Vol. 36 (May 2010), pp 25-6.

[32] The 2005 Forum created the new category but its communiqué does not offer much on the distinctions between the new categories of Observer and Associate Member.  See: Thirty-Sixth Pacific Islands Forum Communiqué at: http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/spacific/regional_orgs/pif36_communique.html

[33] Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America [1951]; http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/new_zealand/anzus.pdf

[34] For an assessment of the linkage between ANZUS and the South Pacific region, see: R.A. Herr, "The Changing Geo-Politics of ANZUS: The Place of the South Pacific", World Review, March 1984, pp. 21-42.

[35] Ibid.

[36] The details and consequences of the 1976 ANZUS ministerial meeting are addressed in my "Regionalism, Strategic Denial and South Pacific Security", Journal of Pacific History, XXI (1986), pp. 170-182.

[37] The role of the two ANZAC states has always been ambiguous since they are outside the SPC’s operational ambit yet they as much bound by Forum decisions as the FICs.  Thus, have both the characteristics of owners (without being resident in the region) and stakeholders (as outsiders/donors).

[38] Michael Hamel-Green, The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty: a critical assessment, (Canberra: Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1990).

[39] The end of the Cold War changed strategic attitudes, however, and so, a decade later, France, the United Kingdom and the United States signed the three protocols that applied to them in a joint ceremony in March 1996.

[40] For the history of this dispute see: Stuart McMillan, Neither Confirm Nor Deny (Wellington, Allen & Unwin, 1987).

[41] These are the 1992 Honiara Declaration on Law Enforcement Cooperation, the 1997 Aitutaki Declaration on regional security, the 2000 Biketawa Declaration.

[42] See for example: Elsina Wainwright and Australian Strategic Policy Institute.  Our failing neighbour: Australia and the future of Solomon Islands, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Barton, A.C.T., 2003

[43] The Pacific Plan and details concerning it can be accessed at: http://www.forumsec.org.fj/pages.cfm/about-us/the-pacific-plan/

[44] Laisa Taga, “Forum’s Fiji ‘Plan’ Causing New Split”, Island Business, June 2009, p. 5

[45] http://www.forumsec.org/_resources/article/files/Biketawa%20Declaration.pdf

[46] See for example: Rowan Callick, “Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama orders Australian professor out”, The Australian, 5 November 2009.  Accessed at: http://www.news.com.au/world/fijian-prime-minister-frank-bainimarama-orders-australian-professor-out/story-e6frfkyi-1225794505333

[47] The “Agreed Principles of Co-operation among Independent Melanesian Countries signed in 1988 by Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as founding states members and the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste, (FLNKS) of New Caledonia as an observer self-identified their association as “sub-regional”.

[48] Fiji became an observer in the MSG from 1993.

[49] The Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuila’epa Sailele Malielegaoi, repeated these concerns in 2006 before the coup in Fiji later that year.  See: “MSG: trading on political capital and Melanesian solidarity”, Pacific Institute of Public Policy, Briefing Paper 02, July 2008, p.3.

http://www.google.com.au/search?client=safari&rls=en-us&q=MSG:+trading+on++political+capital+and++Melanesian+solidarity+Pacific+Institute&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&redir_esc=&ei=MuoiTajtGYqmcPzf-dgK

[50] See for example: “PNG urges Australia, NZ to support Fiji”, http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/png-urges-australia-nz-to-support-fiji-20091014-gxbt.html

[51] “Fiji PM says Pacific grouping to strengthen” Radio Australia, 30 October 2009, http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacbeat/stories/200910/s2728299.htm

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The role of the Inbetweeners

The young scholars session at the Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific conference held at the National Central Library, Taiwan gave three promising young scholars the chance to present their work. Nakao, a PhD candidate in history at Leiden University, is one of these young scholars trying to break the academic boundaries, to produce experimental writing of Eastern Taiwan history from a new historical narrative, an Amis perspective and in doing this foster real cross-cultural dialogue. In her speech she presented the foundations of her groundbreaking research:

Alternative (for readers in China)

Working on Eastern Taiwan history, I found interesting similarity and difference between the historical writing of Eastern Taiwan and that of the Pacific world: Both have to do with the writing of the indigenous past; both face the dominant Western historical tradition which per se is a specific value system that is often incommensurable with the local ones. Today, many Pacific writers insist on their traditional way of writing about their Self, more or less at the price of isolating their writing from the rest of the world. In contrast, many Taiwanese historians (Han Taiwanese or Austronesian alike) attempting to write Eastern Taiwan history work within the Western historical tradition, with or without a clear awareness of the underlying cultural differences and conflicts that may eventually affect the written presentation of “history.”

As an Austronesian (Amis) yet Western-trained historian, I'm most concerned with the possibility of bridging the incommensurable: Is it possible to go beyond the debates of academic Westernism and Indigenism, decolonization and postcolonialism etc. and bring up something that is not conflictive in nature but that emphasizes mutual acknowledgement and respect in practice? It requires, I believe, a certain kind of “inbetweenness,” born (usually but not exclusively) by the “cultural inbetweeners.” At the first glance this “inbetween” position seems academically unpopular and disadvantageous, yet eventually it may prove to be promising in creating a real cross-cultural dialogue, which, amidst cultural confrontations, deconstructs none of the participating cultural traditions and remains constructive to all parties.

Photo: Cathy Chuang

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