Security within the Asia-Pacific region is increasingly complex. As with the rest of the world, terrorism has become a persistent threat.
The incidence of transnational organised crime – drug, wildlife, firearm and people smuggling, illegal logging and fishing, and financial crimes – in the Pacific region is growing.
Issues within countries such as ethnic tension, wealth inequality, lack of good governance, land disputes and the erosion of cultural values have potential to upset the stability of the region. These risks to security are further compounded by our region’s geographic isolation, and the limited capacity of law enforcement agencies and the military in many Pacific Island countries.
New Zealand is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum. Its work is guided by its Framework for Pacific Regionalism and security is a key principle of this. Over the years, the Forum has made declarations to improve law enforcement cooperation and support security initiatives. These include:
- The 2002 Nasonini Declaration on Regional Security which led to the development of model law that helped Pacific Island countries draft or redraft their legislation to combat terrorism and transnational organised crime
- The 2000 Biketawa Declaration which sets the framework for regional crisis management and conflict resolution initiatives.
We have long-standing defence ties with many Asian countries and security issues are an area of focus in our work with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Trans-national crime including people smuggling, drug trafficking, cyber crime and maritime piracy are significant security challenges in Asia. There's a growing threat from radicalisation with foreign terrorist fighters returning home from other regions such as the Middle East, and maritime and territorial disputes have the potential to cause instability in the region.
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Regional security issues require a regional response - we work with ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific countries to address common security challenges together.
Pacific Islands Forum and security
- We’re a member of the Forum’s Regional Security Committee (FRSC). This is the main regional meeting on political security and governance issues. Committee members meet annually to discuss regional security issues, improve coordination between countries, and identify priority areas for their own law enforcement agencies
- As a member of the FRSC, we’ve convened the Pacific Islands Forum Working Group on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime since 2005
ASEAN and security
- We're a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum which fosters constructive dialogue on political and security issues and build cooperative ties in the region. Forum members include all ASEAN members as well as Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, South Korea, the European Union, India, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste and the US.
- We're also a member of the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus) which serves to strengthen security and defence cooperation amongst its members for peace, stability, and development in the region. In 2010, the Defence Ministers agreed to focus on five key areas: maritime security, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster management, peacekeeping operations and military medicine. Members include the ADMM (ASEAN states) plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russian Federation and the US.
- We work with regional law enforcement agencies such as the South Pacific Chiefs of Police Conference, Oceania Customs Organisation and the Pacific Immigration Directors Conference
- We respond with various aid programmes to build the law enforcement capacity of our Pacific Island neighbours, such as the Partnership for Policing initiative. This involves New Zealand Police training and mentoring officers from the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu
- We belong to the Bali Process, a regional multilateral forum chaired by Australia and Indonesia, which aims to counter people smuggling through regional cooperation
MFAT administers the Pacific Security Fund. This helps fund projects in the Pacific run by New Zealand government agencies that advance or protect New Zealand’s security interests. A total of $2.7 million is available each year. For more information on the PSF, including the application process, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.