The walkout of five Micronesian nations has cast a light on the Pacific Islands Forum, the apex inter-governmental grouping in the Pacific islands region. But as with much of what goes on in this part of the world, this is a topic with which many are unfamiliar. The current shifts in regional politics and diplomacy need to be viewed in a wider context. What is the Pacific Islands Forum and what is its role in the region? How has it operated previously and how have previous divisions been accommodated by the membership? What does this current situation mean for the future of the Pacific Islands Forum?
About the Speaker
Tess Newton Cain is the Project Leader for the Griffith Asia Institute’s Pacific Hub. Within that role she assists with curation for the Pacific Outlook section of the Griffith Asia Insights blog. Tess is a dual citizen of Vanuatu and the United Kingdom. She is a former Lecturer in Law at the University of the South Pacific. She has lived and worked in the Pacific islands region for almost 25 years, with most of that time spent living in Vanuatu. Tess’ research interests focus on politics, policy and development in the Pacific islands region. She has provided research, strategic advice and policy support to national governments, regional organisations (including the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat) and development partners (including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the United Nations, and the governments of Australia and New Zealand). In 2019, Tess led a research team on behalf of Peacifica and the Whitlam Institute which led to the report: Pacific perspectives on the world published in February 2020. She has recently co-authored two policy briefs with Dr Wesley Morgan, published by the Griffith Asia Institute—Activating greater trade and investment between Australia and Pacific island countries and Strengthening Australia’s relationships with Pacific island countries. Tess provides comment and analysis for media outlets in the Pacific islands region, Australia, New Zealand, and across the world.