pacific forum History of Pacific Forum

21st Century Pacific Island Security Workshop


– 05/08/2014


Honolulu, Hawaii



Island nations of the Pacific are beset with numerous security challenges. Some of these security challenges are common to states in the Western Pacific and generally fit into the category of “non-traditional security concerns” whilst some are of the more hard power variety. The US Government engages these states via many channels and fora (in addition to political and diplomatic engagement) dating from the aftermath of the Second World War and the mandates of the United Nations Trusteeship Council. This relationship represents a special trust and legacy of support.

Key questions to be taken up during the workshop include, but not limited to: once, keeping Micronesia friendly was seen as “strategic denial.” What is it now and how have the challenges changed? What effect will a new conceptualization have on likely/contingent uses of air space and land in the region and the relationships to the local governments? What kinds of influence is China exerting today and likely to exert over the course of the next few years? What is the impact of this influence? What kinds of challenges exist to island security in fishing, human trafficking, criminal activities, migration, and economic activities? How are these managed and influenced by US policy, federal responsibilities, and the use of military forces and assets? What is the role of other Asian donor nations? How is economic activity (tourism, ocean resources) shaped, contracted, or expanded by US assistance in fishing, US immigration policies, and management of visitor visas? Are trust funds viable development tools?



Tuesday, May 6:

Registration, Informal Kickoff Reception

Wednesday, May 7:

Morning Keynote
“The Significance of Pacific Island Security to the United States in the 21st Century”
Robert A. Underwood, University of Guam, President

Panel 1: Current USG Engagement with Pacific Islands on Security within the context of the “Asia Rebalance”
Norman H. Barth, PhD, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Majuro
Kamakana Kaimuloa, Staff to Representative Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii, 1st)
Kristen Oleyte, Senior Policy Advisor, Department of the Interior

This panel will address USG current engagements with Pacific Island countries within the context of the “rebalance” to Asia framework. The current USG programming in the Pacific Island region illustrate a significant political will and interest in a sustained engagement with pacific partners. For instance, in her remarks during the Post Forum dialogue in 2012, Secretary Clinton noted that the United States is working to expand existing security partnerships in the region in order to, among other things, protect fishing, fight human trafficking, and ensure free navigation of the waters. Secretary Clinton’s attendance at that forum was also perceived as a strong signal of the USG renewed interest in the Pacific Islands region. The US interagency has become very active in that region, to include: the US Department of Defense, the US Department of State, the US Agency for International Development, and the US Department of the Interior. This panel will look at the Compact of Free Association (1986, renewed 2003) and associated Trust Fund and explore ways to further extend and expand the scope of the USG engagement in the Pacific Island region. Are trust fund-type mechanisms the most appropriate tools to support sustained USG engagement in the region? How can the USG better leverage the interagency capabilities and will to further engage with Pacific partners?

Lunch / Lunch Keynote
“Building Trust and Security through Economic Growth in the Pacific”
Curtis S. Chin, Managing Director, RiverPeak Group LLC; Former US Ambassador to the Asian Develop Bank

Panel 2: Pacific Islands Perspectives – Security Challenges and Balancing Relationships in the Pacific
Amb. Asterio R. Takesy, Ambassador of the FSM to the United States
Tarcisius Kabutaluka, Associate Professor, University of Hawaii at Monoa
Francis X. Hezel, S.J., Jesuit Priest; Senior Fellow, Pacific Islands Development Program

Past history has led Pacific Island countries to doubt the USG commitment to the region. The announcement of a “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific has not completely reassured them. Pacific Island nations are looking for stronger assurances from the USG and other international partners that they are there for the long haul and that they are committed to bring these countries “renewed attention, deeper engagement, advanced development, and more protection.” (Manyin et al, 2012) What are the expectations of the island nations relative to US long term presence? On security issues (writ large)? On economic development? What is the future of the COFA? The Pacific Plan?

Panel 3: Donor Nation Perspectives – Interests, Priorities, and the Strategic Significance of the Pacific Islands
Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director, Myer Foundation Melanesia Program, Lowy Institute
Jim Rolfe, New Zealand Centre for Strategic Studies, Victoria University of Wellington
Xiujun Xu, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of World Economics & Politics, CASS
Komei Isozaki, Visiting Fellow, Pacific Forum

The economies of small island nations of the Pacific are too small to sustain the necessary functions that are expected from a government today. Consequently, they have to rely on official development aid (ODA) from partner countries in order to properly function and deliver basic public services, including security. It is important to note that while reliance on ODA varies significantly across the region –with Fiji depending on it for 1% of its total income and the Federal States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall islands relying on ODA for over half of their income – most countries will continue to need foreign assistance in the foreseeable future to provide for their citizens and ensure regional peace and stability. This panel will explore interests, priorities and the strategic significance of the pacific islands from the donor perspective, highlighting the role of regional powers in providing sustained assistance to the region. Panelists will focus on China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Thursday, May 8:

Morning Keynote
Defense and Security
Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod, J4, U.S. Pacific Command

Panel 1: Avoiding Competition, Promoting Cooperation
Lt. Gen. Chip Gregson, Chair, Banyan Analytics
Graeme Smith, Research Fellow, Australia National University
Eric Shibuya, Professor of Strategic Studies, Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University

Discussant: Xiujun Xu, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of World Economics & Politics, CASS

As the previous day’s panel discussions illustrated, the Pacific Islands region is attracting mounting attention from foreign powers as its countries continue developing and integrating in the world economy. Currently, there is a perception that China’s interest and influence in the Pacific Islands has grown, leading to potential competition with other major regional powers, to include Australia, Japan, and the United States. This panel will discuss this emerging great power competition in the Pacific Islands region and explore ways to promote cooperation among interested actors (i.e., Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States). For instance, in addition to pursuing the full range of commercial interests, is China providing for sustainable development? Does China present a challenge to the other powers in Oceania? What strategies should the United States and its allies create to enhance cooperation and avoid competition?

Panel 2: Security Challenges (Part One)
Yoji Koda, Vice Admiral (Ret), Japan Maritime Self Defense Force
Barry Choy, NOAA liaison to U.S. Pacific Command J9
Erin Hughey, Director, Disaster Services, Pacific Disaster Center
Timothy Bryar, Conflict Prevention Adviser, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

Pacific Island nations are facing numerous, rapidly evolving and increasingly complex security challenges. Some of these challenges are traditional and others less so and include: poor maritime domain awareness, the uncertain effects of climate change, high susceptibility to natural disasters, and pandemic diseases. Issues related to maritime domain awareness (e.g., piracy, armed robbery at sea, illicit trafficking of all sorts), fisheries (e.g., IUU fishing, over fishing) and disaster and emergency preparedness (e.g., emergency early warning) are the biggest concerns in the minds of both donor countries and Island nations. It is critical for Pacific Island countries to realize that while the waters surrounding them hold the key to their economic growth and development, their insularity also makes them vulnerable to complex threats. This panel will focus on security challenges associated to maritime domain awareness, fisheries, and disaster and emergency preparedness and discuss ways both donor countries and aid recipients can best address these rapidly emerging challenges.

Panel 3: Security Challenges (Part Two)
Michael Termini, MD, MPH, LCDR MC USN, Preventive Medicine Department Head CNRH Public Health Emergency Officer, Naval Health Clinic Hawaii
J. Scott Hauger, PhD, Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies
Garret Harries, USAID liaison to U.S. Pacific Command J9

This panel will build on the previous panel’s discussion and address additional security challenges facing the Pacific Island nations. While issues related to economic development, health, and the environment are non-traditional security threats, they are important contributing factors to the peace and stability of the region. Panelists will emphasize the importance of this nexus for the security of the Pacific Island region in the 21st century.

Closing Remarks, Next Steps, Adjournment
David Hamon, Director, Banyan Analytics
Ralph Cossa, President, Pacific Forum

Young Leaders gathering after the meeting on May 8th