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The Pacific

Shared security in the Pacific


This page gives an overview of Australia’s work in the shared security sector, under Pillar 2 (stability) of Australia’s Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response. It also outlines key related initiatives and summaries of programming and related documents.

Australia is committed to supporting Pacific Island Countries build resilience to their security challenges, as articulated in the 2018 Boe Declaration on Regional Security.

Australia's longstanding security cooperation with Pacific countries covers defence, law enforcement, transnational crime, climate and disaster resilience, border management and human security.

"…a stable and resilient security environment provides a platform to achieve the region's sustainable development aspirations"

Ewen McDonald, Head of the Office of the Pacific

Maritime boundaries and zones

Pacific island States’ maritime areas are vastly greater than their land areas and the ocean is critical to Pacific peoples’ societies, culture, food security and economic prosperity. Australia has long supported the Pacific island States to define their maritime zones and settle shared boundaries, the first key step in securing rights and entitlements stemming from maritime zones. This contributes to regional stability, security, sustainable development and the management and conservation of ocean resources. Since 2011, 15 shared boundaries have been negotiated, more than half of Pacific island States have revised their maritime zone limits and lodged this information with the United Nations, and nine eligible States have made claims for areas of extended continental shelf in accordance with UN processes.

Australia has stepped up our support to Pacific island countries to establish their maritime zones and secure maritime entitlements into the future. Since 2001, Australia has provided financial, technical and legal support to Pacific island states to establish their maritime zones, negotiate shared boundaries and submit extended continental shelf claims.

We have helped 8 countries to establish their maritime zone limits in national legislation, 10 countries to submit extended continental shelf claims, and 9 countries to negotiate or amend 15 shared boundary treaties.

In June 2019, we announced a new project with the Pacific Community to examine the impacts of sea level rise on maritime zones, and develop innovative, Pacific-led solutions ($3.5 million, 2019-2021).

Since 2007, the Australian Government has offered more than 190 scholarships to awardees from the Pacific countries to undertake studies in environment related issues including fisheries, marine science, climate change and environmental management.

Man casting a net in knee high waters
A traditional net fisherman in a Kiribati lagoon. Australia is supporting several programmes in the Pacific to help protect fast depleting fish stocks. Photo: DFAT/Quentin Hanich.

Boe Declaration of Regional Security

On 5 September 2018 in Nauru, the Pacific islands Forum, including Australia, adopted the Boe Declaration on Regional Security. The new declaration recognises an expanded concept of security, including human, cyber and environmental security, and frames regional responses to emerging security issues.

More about the Boe Declaration on Regional Security partnership.

Pacific Fusion Centre

Australia has been working with Pacific countries and regional organisations to establish the Pacific Fusion Centre. The Pacific Fusion Centre aggregates and analyses information relevant to shared security challenges, including the impacts of COVID-19 on the regional security environment. It ensures Pacific decision makers have the information they need to respond to the broad range of security priorities articulated in the Boe Declaration, and provides a trusted source of COVID-19 information.

More about the Pacific Fusion Centre partnership.

Australia Pacific Security College

The Australia Pacific Security College (APSC) is an Australian aid-funded initiative delivered by the Australian National University. The College makes a valuable contribution to regional security cooperation by bringing together officials from across countries and agencies for training, professional development and forum-discussion opportunities.

More about the Australia Pacific Security College partnership.

Cyber Cooperation Program

Recognising the priorities articulated in the Boe Declaration, Australia partners with Pacific island countries to enhance their cyber resilience, including through cooperation on cyber safety, cyber security and cybercrime.

More about the Cyber Cooperation Program partnership.

Pacific Maritime Security Program

The Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP) builds on our 30-year commitment to maritime security in the Pacific, and will gift 21 purpose built Guardian-class Patrol Boats to 12 Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste, supported by a regional surveillance capability and infrastructure upgrades. The PMSP assists Pacific island countries to protect their maritime environment, resources and security.

More about the Pacific Maritime Security Program partnership.

Pacific Maritime Boundaries

$1.3 million, 2017 to 2020

Australia has contributed to a regional effort, coordinated by The Pacific Community (SPC), to assist the 14 Pacific island States to establish their maritime zones under international law. This latest investment is a part of Australia’s continued support for regional efforts in resolving maritime boundaries.

More about the Pacific Maritime Boundaries initiative.

Resilient Boundaries for the Blue Pacific

$3.6 million, 2019 to 2024

Pacific Island Forum members have raised concerns about sea level rise potentially diminishing the extent of their maritime zones. The Resilient Boundaries for the Blue Pacific project with SPC is examining physical features used to generate the maritime zones of the Pacific island States with a view to exploring options to ensure the  ir resilience to the impacts of sea-level rise and other climate change impacts and to develop possible responses.

More about the Resilient Boundaries for the Blue Pacific project.

Pacific Transnational Crime Network

The Pacific Transnational Crime Network (PTCN), established by the Australian Federal Police in 2002, provides an intelligence network for Pacific law enforcement agencies to combat transnational, serious and organised crime. The PTCN consists of locally staffed Transnational Crime Units across the Pacific region, with the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre (PTCCC) in Samoa performing a central coordinating role. The PTCN recognises the importance of collaboration and cooperation to effectively fighting crime.

More about the Pacific Transnational Crime Network partnership.

Pacific Police Development Program

The Pacific Police Development Program (PPDP), implemented by the Australian Federal Police with a range of partners, is an integral part of the AFP’s commitment to promoting the safety and security of Pacific communities. PPDP includes several bilateral missions and commitments to regional policing initiatives.

More about the Pacific Police Development Program partnership.

Defence Cooperation Program

Through the Defence Cooperation Program we promote the capacity of our international partners, improve Australia’s capacity to work with partners in response to common security challenges, and build strong people-to-people links across the region

More about the Defence Cooperation Program partnership.

Defence infrastructure partnerships

Defence is partnering with Papua New Guinea (PNG), Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands on significant infrastructure projects, as well as 12 wharf infrastructure upgrades across the region as part of the Pacific Maritime Security Program, to enhance the security of the Pacific.

More about the Defence infrastructure partnerships

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