BLUF

Australia needs to put in a considered diplomatic effort to ensure the Pacific Island's forum's survival and ensure that all forum members benefit from being members.

Summary

The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) comprises MelanesiaMicronesia, Polynesia, Australia and NZ. Previously there was a gentleman's agreement that the Secretary-General's position rotated around each of the regions. In 2021 it was the turn of Micronesia, but instead, a Cook Islander from the Polynesian region was narrowly elected. The Micronesian countries (pop c 312,000) were upset and gave notice that they intended to leave the Forum. Many Pacific nations depend on tourism and have been hard hit by Covid-19 travel bans. And when this is taken together with the area being subject to competition between China and the US, there are serious maritime security implications. The writer is optimistic that a compromise will be found and further argues that Australia needs to work hard to ensure that members do not leave the Forum. Consider how Australia benefits from being a member of the PIF.