For a long time, ‘national security’ policy was the preserve of the uniformed services and government ministers who drew up their frameworks largely behind closed doors. However the rise of many ‘unconventional’ security threats such as climate change and non-communicable diseases, plus community tensions over resource projects, highlight the need for the wider community to have input into national security policy.
Many security professionals may worry about big-picture geopolitics involving China’s military ambitions or ISIS terrorism, but mamas selling produce in the local market have more day to day concerns: will raskol gangs steal my produce on the way to market? Will our neighbours want to fight us for a better split of royalty payments from a nearby mine? Is our police force trust-worthy?
It is essential to make security policy more inclusive of broader social aspirations so that communities have more input on the security issues that affect them most at the local level.
In this paper, PiPP suggests that while the basic regional security architecture is in place, with agreements such as the Biketawa Declaration providing a ‘trigger’ mechanism to build regional responses to crisis, more needs to be done at a national and local level to keep the peace in Pacific nations. Most important of these is to provide space (and budgets) for ongoing peace-building and reconciliation measures, rooted in kastom practices. This is particularly true in post-conflict places such as Timor Leste, Bougainville and the Solomon Islands. Fortunately, the Pacific has a wealth of kastom peace-building traditions that are effective and can even be used beyond the region.
There is also a wider understanding of security issues emerging, such as the nexus between peace and development, resource exploitation and what ensures ‘human security’ more broadly. As one commentator says, ‘it is not about the securitisation of development, rather it is about the humanisation of security.’