A dysfunctional family: Australia’s relationship with Pacific Island states and climate change

Moore, Liam (2024) A dysfunctional family: Australia’s relationship with Pacific Island states and climate change. Australian Journal of International Affairs. (In Press)

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Abstract

I argue the instrumental, paternalistic strategic culture often adopted in Australian foreign policy circles is counter-productive, preventing Australia from having productive and sustainable relationships with Pacific states. If Australian officials want to follow through on rhetorical commitments to enhance Australia’s relationships in the Pacific, Australia must actively recognise the agency Pacific states have and place itself within this community of actors. Australia often positions itself as part of the ‘Pacific family,’ but to be a collaborative member of this family it must go beyond headline commitments and fundamentally reconsider the evolving agency of small Pacific states and how this shapes Australia’s interactions with them. We can understand this through the lens of normative communities. Revisiting constructivist International Relations theory, I reexamine who is included and excluded in the communities of actors that norms apply to. This has particularly significant implications around norms of climate change action and mitigation. Australia has historically tried to water down agreements and slow-role actions in this space. The ongoing bid to host COP31 perhaps offers an opportunity to both show leadership on climate-related issues and to reconfigure assumptions around Pacific agency and address the effects this has on Australia’s relationships in the Pacific.

Item ID: 81970
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1465-332X
Keywords: Australia, Pacific, foreign policy, climate change, norms
Copyright Information: © 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2024 05:06
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4408 Political science > 440808 International relations @ 40%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4408 Political science > 440807 Government and politics of Asia and the Pacific @ 40%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4408 Political science > 440805 Environmental politics @ 20%
SEO Codes: 23 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 2303 International relations > 230302 International aid and development @ 50%
23 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 2303 International relations > 230399 International relations not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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