The Pacific Way: Where ‘Non-Traditional’ is the Norm

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Traditional security is not a major concern for Pacific Island countries and has not been for at last 50 years. Instead, the region has for some time identified non-traditional issues, especially relating to the environment and resources, as among those that could affect the security of its members, collectively and individually. Non-traditional security issues in this region are generally externally imposed. These vulnerabilities are generally beyond the ability of individual states to control or mitigate. As a result, there is little need for conflict and a considerable reliance on cooperative processes to resolve the issues. The main arena for resolving issues is the Pacific Islands Forum (until recently, the South Pacific Forum). Forum decisions are based on consensus decision making in which standard setting and norm-based behavior have taken root. There are signs, though, that as issues of traditional “high politics” become more salient within the region, consensus could become strained.

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