Defence ministers forge stronger regional collaboration

December 11, 2023 12:43 pm

[Source: Supplied]

The South Pacific defence ministers have committed to deepening cooperation to jointly tackle the most acute challenges facing their countries.

Representatives from Australia, Chile, Fiji, France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga, along with observers from Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, gathered in Nouméa, New Caledonia, for the high-level meeting last week.

The meeting marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of SPDMM.

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Members explored ways to address climate-induced disasters, the increasing demand for rapid Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief responses, maritime security, and non-traditional security challenges such as IUU fishing and transnational crime, as well as cyber threats.

They also discussed the impact of strategic competition on the stability of the South Pacific.

Members, including defence ministers and senior civil and military officials, agreed to update the POVAI ENDEAVOUR Framework—a cooperative exercise framework.

Recognizing the leading role of national disaster management organizations, they discussed mechanisms to enhance how South Pacific militaries work together and welcomed the prominence of women, peace, and security considerations.

As achieving greater interoperability necessitates consistent information sharing, members committed to finalizing a framework to facilitate greater information exchange by next year’s meeting.

Members also committed to jointly combating regional maritime threats such as illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing and transnational crime to better protect resources in the vast Exclusive Economic Zones of the Blue Pacific Continent.

Consequently, they strongly agree to take necessary steps to enhance ship-riding operations according to each member’s requirements.

Following an initiative from Chile, members committed to creating an SPDMM academic network to build bridges between defence academic institutions and enhance the sharing of security analyses.

Members accepted Australia’s offer to host the 2025 edition of the SPDMM Young Leaders Forum, which New Zealand successfully organized this year.