Instability of Solomon Islands. Implications and Policy Options for Australia

The paper presents the case for the thesis that Solomon Islands’ instability infringes on Australia’s interests. A combination of ineffective government, poverty and conflict destabilized the country and caused a civil war (1998‑2003). However, in the late 1990s, it was recognized that similar problems affect almost all of Australia’s neighbours. The result was the emergence of the concept of the Australian arc of instability. The main assumption is that states to the north (Indonesia, Timor‑Leste, Papua New Guinea) and north‑east (Solomon Islands, Vanuatu) of Australia can be characterized as fragile. Persistence of instability in Solomon Islands and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood poses several challenges to Australia’s interests: favourable environment for transna‑ tional crime to thrive, increased burden on forces responsible for border protection, danger for Australians living in unstable countries, damage to Australia’s role as Oceania’s leading power and missed opportunities for Australian busi‑ nesses. Canberra has the following policy options: firstly, structuring the defence forces so they are capable of protecting vast approaches and conducting stabilization missions in Solomon Islands and other neighbouring countries. Secondly, addressing the underlining causes of instability through Australia’s foreign aid. Thirdly, encouraging and supporting initiatives which promote regional cooperation.
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