Pacific-Island Nation Security Collaboration Workshop
16 – 19 September 2008; Nukualofa, Tonga
Background. The Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) is a U.S. Department of Defense academic institute addressing regional and global security issues through executive education programs. The mission of APCSS is to educate, connect, and empower security practitioners to advance Asia-Pacific security.
The Tonga Defense Services (TDS) is the armed forces of Tonga. TDS is composed of three operational command components, two support elements (logistics and training groups) and police. The force’s mission is to assist in maintenance of public order, to patrol coastal waters and fishing zones, and to engage in civic action and national development projects.
Objectives. This workshop brought together senior security practitioners from Pacific-Island Nations to discuss priority security concerns within the region and paths towards more effective multilateral collaboration to address these. The objectives of this event were to 1) Review existent and anticipated security concerns among Pacific Island nations; 2) Describe and discuss the basic requirements for sustaining existing collaborative structures and forums for better understanding and addressing major shared security concerns; and 3) discuss new requirements to enhance collaboration and cooperation and 4) Identify practical next steps that may be taken to enhance security in region.
Overall Results. The workshop achieved the stated objectives.
- Participants characterized a deteriorating security environment in the Pacific
- Some of the issues identified as immediate were: climate change, transnational crime, economic vulnerability, government mismanagement and corruption, political instability, disaster preparedness external pressure from larger powers in the region
- Generally, a positive view was expressed about current regional collaboration
- Participants considered regional organizations to be important to security strategies
- Discussions suggested there was room for improvement in regional collaboration
- Opinion on the role of major powers in regional security was divided, as was the role of civil society and non-government organizations in security issues
- Participants considered the level of interagency coordination within their nations as adequate, but in need of improvement
- Principal constraints and capacity needs in pursuing security objectives were identified as: poor governance and weak policy frameworks; financial constraints; human resource weaknesses; and ineffective regional collaboration
Survey Analysis. The following section provides a brief summary confirming the fact workshop objectives were met. The summary is based directly upon the feedback obtained in survey responses.
- Workshop participants, especially from countries outside of the small island states, confirmed they had a better understanding and appreciation for the security issues affecting the Pacific Island Nations
- Participants representing the various Pacific island nations provided a number of existing and anticipated security concerns
- A common theme was the lack of existing mechanism to deal with security challenges
- Primary constraints identified in survey responses were problems with governance, policies, and political will.
- In improving security, the most common response given deals with enhancing governance and policy weaknesses
- Leadership needs to take responsibility and ownership of security issues
- Regional coordination was another important key to securing a more peaceful future
Regional Perspectives. In order to acquire the perspectives on discussion topics, APCSS conducted polling during the workshop. The following provides just a few examples of the results.
Contact Information. For more information, please contact Assessment and Evaluation at (808) 971-8905.