Small and Pacific Island States

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Alliance of Small Island States AOSIS
Members and Observers
UNDP Support to Small Island Developing States

‘Quad needs to befriend Bougainville, not just Papua New Guinea’
Cleo Paskal
‘China may be getting ready to do in PNG what it has already pulled off in the Solomon Islands. Is it really smart for Australia, let alone its diplomatic friends in the Quad to bet everything on PNG?’
(Sunday Guardian) While Bougainville, an archipelago of approximately 200 islands, is geographically part of the Solomon Islands, it is currently a political unit of PNG. Even though PNG and Bougainville are both part of Melanesia, a culturally distinct region of the Pacific running roughly in parallel with Australia’s northeast coast, the populations of the two areas have significant differences.
… In the December 2019 vote, 97.7% of Bougainvilleans voted for independence. … Running on a platform emphasizing independence, Ishmael Toroama was elected Bougainville’s President one year later.
According to the Peace Agreement, the independence referendum is not binding. In the subsequent joint supervisory board meetings, a series of quarterly sessions involving negotiations between President Toroama and the current Prime Minister of PNG, James Marape, the two sides have staked out their positions.
Not surprisingly, Ishmael’s stance has never wavered: His people, who waited politely and followed the rules, have spoken. Independence for Bougainville is, in their eyes, finally inevitable.
…It may be true that if Australia and other Western powers don’t pay more attention to PNG, China will. The PRC has already underwritten PNG’s APEC 2018 soiree, its state-owned-enterprises are dominant players in PNG’s precious minerals and oil & gas industries, and totally control other major industries like fishing as well.
Q: What should be the response of the Quad? Is there a role for India?
A: Indeed, China may be getting ready to do in PNG what it has already pulled off in the Solomon Islands. If there’s a risk of that happening, is it really smart for Australia, let alone its diplomatic friends in the Quad, including the United States, Japan, and India, to bet everything on PNG?
Perhaps the Quad should hedge its bets. What about giving both PNG and Bougainville a shot at befriending the Quad in the South Pacific? Everyone knows that the best deepwater port in the region isn’t in the county named the Solomon Islands: it’s in Arawa, on Bougainville Island.

2 October
Joe Biden Endorses ‘free And Open’ Indo-Pacific After Key Pacific Islands Summit
(Republic World) Biden launched Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) initiative this year with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and UK to coordinate with Pacific Islands region.
US President Joe Biden on Saturday endorsed a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region, stressing that it shall be stable and prosperous, resilient and secure as he delivered a speech whilst hosting the leaders from the Pacific Island countries. A great deal of the history of the world would be written in the Indo-Pacific over the coming years and decades, Biden said, adding that the Pacific Islands are a critical voice in shaping the globe’s future.
The US President committed to deepening the enduring partnership with the Pacific Islands countries, saying that America and the region shared a common future and goals. He pledged to tackle the climate crisis in the region, which he noted, “threatens all of us.” He categorically stressed that his administration made it a priority to strengthen partnerships with the Pacific Islands Forum.
Cleo Paskal: US moves on Pacific islands, but barely
The last two weeks have seen some of the most frantic US activity related to the Pacific Islands since the end of World War II. Key events included the September 13th Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders in Hawaii, the release of the US Institute of Peace’s report on China’s Influence on the Freely Associated States of the Northern Pacific, the publication of America’s first Pacific Islands Partnership Strategy, and a two-day summit in D.C. for over a dozen Pacific nations that culminated in a dinner with President Joe Biden and a joint declaration.

30 September
Amid rising seas, island nations push for legal protections
(AP) — When and if an island nation fully submerges due to rising seas, what happens to the nationalities of its citizens?
This and other related questions are being considered by island nations advocating for changes to international law as climate change threatens their existence.
“Climate change induced sea level rise is a defining issue for many Pacific Island states and like most climate change issues, Pacific Island states have been at the forefront of challenging international law to develop in a way which is equitable and just,” said Fleur Ramsay, head of litigation and climate lead of the Pasifika Program at the Australia-based Environmental Defenders Office.
During a recent [interview] with The Associated Press, Ramsay noted the shortcomings in the development of international law. For example, under international law, there are discussions of nomadic tribes making claims over lands they have historically passed over. However, rights over historical ocean passages have not yet been explored for citizens of island nations.
There is already evidence of loss of islands. Between 1947 and 2014, six smaller islands in the Pacific archipelago of the Solomon Islands completely vanished, according to a paper published in Environment Research Letters in 2016. The study identified the complete loss of reef islands and other islands that were experiencing severe shoreline recession, leading to the relocation of some communities. And in its report earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s top body of climate scientists, noted risks to coastal areas and ecosystems due to submergence and flooding through sea level rise and increased height of waves.
The issue of protecting sovereignty is a constant topic of discussion for many Pacific Islands leaders. The maritime and resource entitlements that islands stand to lose in the face of land loss were part of talks during the Pacific Small Island Developing States meetings this week in Apia, Samoa. The meetings came on the heels of last week’s U.N. General Assembly meetings, in which Pacific Island leaders pushed for changes that would protect island nations as they lose territory to erosion and rising sea levels.

22 September
The Partners in the Blue Pacific: A New Alliance in the Region
On June 24, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Japan announced the creation of a new cooperation format – The Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) – an inclusive and informal mechanism to more effectively and efficiently support the goals of the Pacific region. This format is keeping with the shared vision of the participating countries on the problems of the region.
24 June
Statement by Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States on the Establishment of the Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP)
A new initiative for more effective and efficient cooperation in support of Pacific Island priorities
The Pacific Islands region is home to nearly a fifth of the Earth’s surface and many of its most urgent challenges, from the climate crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic to growing pressure on the rules-based free and open international order. It was in this context that the Pacific Islands Forum, the premier driver of regional action, committed to organize its members “as one collective if we are to address our increasingly common challenges.”
As our countries—Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States—continue to support prosperity, resilience, and security in the Pacific, we too must harness our collective strength through closer cooperation. To that end, our governments dispatched high-level officials to Washington, D.C. on June 23 and 24 for consultations with Pacific Heads of Mission and other partners, including France, as well as the European Union in its observing capacity. These meetings followed discussions with Pacific partners, including with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; they remain ongoing, including with other partners engaged in the region. Today, our five countries launched an inclusive, informal mechanism to support Pacific priorities more effectively and efficiently: the Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP).


24 May
Les îles qui disparaissent, un enjeu stratégique
(Le Devoir) On apprenait début mai que cinq îles de l’archipel des Salomon, dans le Pacifique, ont disparu, immergées en raison de la montée des eaux, conséquence du réchauffement climatique. Ces îles étaient inhabitées. Mais de nombreuses autres, habitées celles-là, sont aussi menacées. Loin d’être un phénomène strictement physique, la disparition progressive des îles de l’Océanie, qui sont aussi des pays, soulève d’importants enjeux légaux et stratégiques, explique Cléo Paskal, chercheuse de la Fondation Trudeau invitée au CERIUM.
En gros, deux phénomènes se produisent simultanément, l’un renforçant l’autre de façon exponentielle : la hausse du niveau de la mer, qui évolue lentement, a des effets majeurs sur les tempêtes et les hautes marées, entre autres. Ensuite, le problème n’est pas que l’immersion progressive d’une île, mais aussi l’eau de mer qui s’infiltre dans l’aquifère. Cette eau salée remplace l’eau douce propre à la consommation, mais elle tue aussi la flore, qui tient le sol en place. Résultat : l’érosion s’accélère, rendant ainsi une parcelle de terre encore plus vulnérable aux tempêtes. Un cyclone peut ainsi effacer une île de la carte.


iy_sids_logo_full The International Year of Small Island Developing States will celebrate the contributions that this group of countries has made to the world. Small island developing states are home to vibrant and distinct cultures, diversity and heritage.
People of Small Island Developing States are also at the forefront of efforts to addressing pressing global issues through ingenuity, innovation and use of traditional knowledge.
The challenges facing the small island developing States are challenges that confront us all, and they are determined to work with all countries to find solutions that will ensure a brighter future for generations to come.
The Year will also help raise awareness of the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States, which will be held in September in Apia, Samoa, and will focus on building partnerships for sustainable development.

SIDS Issues
Climate Change is a planetary emergency that threatens the survival of many small island states.
For some low lying states like the Maldives, Kiribati, and some of the Bahamas, the risks from sea level rise threaten their physical existence, as they would very easily be inundated by sea levels in excess of one metre above current levels – levels that can be reached by 2100, if significant action is not taken immediately to reduce and ultimately limit the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases to well below 350 parts per million (ppm) in the long run.
For other states, their social-economic viability will be compromised, inter alia:
By the rising seas which will damage their coastal zones, where the majority of their socio-economic infrastructure is located;
By the saline intrusion into their coastal aquifers which will negatively impact on their drinking water and agricultural activities;
By the destruction to their coral reefs and their fisheries habitats that result from increases in ocean acidification and rising temperatures; and
By the impact of stronger tropical cyclones that can destroy years of positive development in a matter of hours, as has been demonstrated time and time again, including by the recent experiences of Cook Islands (2005); Cuba (2008); Fiji (2008); Grenada (2004); Haiti (2004; 2008); Niue (2004); and others.

24 September
AOSIS Reaffirms Climate Platform at UNGA
AOSIS Ministers met here today on the sidelines of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss key issues related to the highly anticipated climate change negotiations that begin in Paris at the end of the year.
“The meeting here in New York is the last opportunity for leaders to look each other in the eye and commit to doing what is necessary in Paris,” said Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Environment and Energy for the Maldives and Chair of AOSIS.
15 September
Small island states told to target research not resorts
(SciDevNet) Poorer island nations must up their science and innovation activities to protect their economic growth and move away from tourism as their main source of income, according to development experts.
A book released in advance of the UN summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this month argues that far too many small island developing states are focusing their economies on areas that will prove unprofitable in the long term, as industries such as tourism are prone to natural disasters and changes in trends. Its author is Carlisle Richardson, is an economics affairs officer at the UN.
Richardson, who grew up on St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, says more home-grown research and technological innovation can give poorer island nations a competitive advantage while also preparing them for challenges brought about by things such as climate change, demographic change and industrialisation,
Ronald Jean Jumeau, ambassador to the UN for climate change and small island developing states issues for the Seychelles, says there is a global dearth of science and technology development catering to the needs of islands. Small island developing states ‘lack research support’
Small Island, Big Business: Nauru’s Choice on Migrants
Is replacing phosphate with refugees the best solution for Nauru?
Nauru is currently treating migrants as a disposable commodity; it would do well to remember its own painful experiences from its overreliance on phosphate production
Nauru doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to good governance and investments. After independence in 1968, Nauru experienced several decades of prosperity when exports of the island’s main natural resource, phosphate, made its inhabitants among the wealthiest in the world. This allowed the Nauruan government to abolish taxes and give its population monthly stipends, essentially removing any incentive for Nauruans to seek employment, start businesses, or otherwise contribute to the economy of the country. By the late 1990s, the island’s phosphate reserves had essentially run out, sinking the country into economic turmoil. In the process, 80 percent of the country has been rendered totally uninhabitable and inarable by mining, removing any prospects of agriculture and, to a large degree, tourism.
15 August
Cleo Paskal: Act East, engage Pacific Island Countries
While India is playing catch-up in the South China Sea, China is locking up influence in the vast area between Asia and South America.
(Sunday Guardian) Covering almost 1/6th of the planet’s surface, the countries of the Pacific aren’t small island states as much as large ocean territories, with vast exclusive economic zones, increasing strategic importance, major untapped resources and 14 critical votes in international fora.
The PICs’ value as partners is an open secret. For decades, both Australia and New Zealand have justified their position on the world stage by claiming they can “deliver” the PICs. However many of the PICs are becoming disenchanted with those “traditional partnerships”. … In spite of almost all the PICs being stable, democratic, well educated (many with close to 100% literacy), and English speaking — all things that should have been a natural bond between India and the region — India has been very slow off the mark.
1 July
Security Challenges for Small Island Developing States
In July, the Council will hold an open debate on the peace and security challenges facing small island developing states (SIDS). New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, is expected to preside. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the prime ministers of Samoa and Jamaica and the finance minister of the Seychelles are likely to brief the Council. No outcome is expected following the debate.
This will be the first open debate addressing the specific challenges associated with this group of 52 countries and territories. As highlighted by the concept note circulated by New Zealand ahead of the open debate, the vulnerabilities of SIDS “are exacerbated by small size; remoteness; narrow resource, economic and export base; and exposure to global environmental challenges”.
The open debate comes after the third UN conference on SIDS in October 2014 in Samoa. The outcome document outlined a series of threats affecting peace and security and the challenges these countries face to respond to them effectively. Some of the threats expected to be raised by member states are related to transnational crime and piracy, the illicit exploitation of natural resources, climate change and uneven development.
13 June
Palau is burning boats to deter illegal poaching of marine life
The president of Palau said: ‘We will not tolerate any more these pirates who come and steal our resources’
The pacific nation of Palau has burnt four Vietnamese boats illegally fishing in the waters of the island nation in a stern message against activities of this kind.
Palau’s president, Tommy Remengesau Jr., said: “We wanted to send a very strong message. We will not tolerate any more these pirates who come and steal our resources.”
President Remengesau Jr also said he hopes to turn most of Palau’s territorial waters into a national marine sanctuary, banning commercial fishing and exports apart from limited areas to be used by domestic fishermen and tourists.
30 April
Amal Clooney: Release Mohamed Nasheed – an innocent man and the Maldives’ great hope
Not only is the former president’s conviction a ‘travesty of justice’ according to Amnesty, it is a frighteningly authoritarian move
(The Guardian) It may be famous for the pristine holiday beaches of its Indian Ocean coastline but the Maldives has taken a dark authoritarian turn. In 2008, the island nation became a democracy after Mohamed Nasheed was sworn in as president after the country’s first-ever free and fair elections. A charismatic leader, Nasheed introduced liberalising reforms at home, while calling for global action against climate change in an attempt to combat the rising sea levels that threaten to inundate the low-lying nation. His remarkable story is chronicled in the acclaimed documentary The Island President.
Seven years later, however, Nasheed is in prison, having been sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for the crime of “terrorism” following a politically motivated show trial. …
Nasheed’s conviction for “terrorism” and the crushing 13-year sentence are a mockery of justice, designed to punish him for criticising the government and remove him as a political threat. Only a few weeks later the parliament controlled by the ruling party adopted a new law making it illegal for anyone imprisoned in the Maldives to be a member of any political party. Nasheed’s conviction sends a loud and clear message to the Maldivian people: opposition to the ruling regime will not be tolerated.

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