The Nauru 2018 Pacific Islands Forum: the new Boe on the block, and more
Last week, Nauru hosted the 49th annual meeting of Pacific Island Forum Leaders, a grouping that includes Pacific island countries, two French territories, and Australia and New Zealand. Australia was represented by Marise Payne, fresh into her new role, just one week after becoming Foreign Minister in the Morrison government. Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Palau were the only other members to send a senior minister instead of their head of government.
Given its location and timing, the 49th Leaders’ meeting was always likely to be eventful. Nauru’s hosting of the Australian ‘regional processing centre’ has delivered plenty of bad press over the years. So has the Nauru government’s crackdown on the opposition, and its blatant disregard for the judiciary. The Nauru government has sought to limit such bad publicity by both charging exorbitant visa fees to journalists, and by denying entry to journalists likely to be critical – a strategy it also pursued in the lead up to the PIF meeting, when it announced that the ABC would be banned from entering the country. Nauru’s formal recognition of Taiwan was also expected to rile China, which attends the Forum Dialogue Partners’ meeting.
Those expecting an eventful leaders’ meeting were not disappointed.
Pacific island concerns about climate change were, predictably, centre stage. The significance of climate change was underlined by its prominent inclusion in the new regional security agreement – the Boe Declaration (more on that below). Climate change was also centre stage in the Leaders’ Communiqué, which emphasised that “climate change presents the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security and wellbeing of Pacific people” (a reiteration of wording included in previous Leaders’ communiqués), and called on “countries, particularly large emitters, to fully implement their nationally determined contribution mitigation targets”. The Communiqué also singled out the …read more