The South Pacific: 'arc of instability' or 'arc of opportunity'?

Joanne Wallis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The term 'arc of instability' was first used in 1999 to describe the security challenges facing the South Pacific. It subsequently came to dominate Australian political discourse, although its veracity was critiqued. This article considers how Australia's political discourse about the region has evolved since 1999 and what impact this has had on Australia's relationships in the region. It begins by outlining why the arc of instability characterization emerged and how it contributed to the securitization of the South Pacific, which justified Australia's policy of new interventionism in the region. It concludes by considering whether it might be time to recharacterize the region as an 'arc of opportunity'. This recharacterization may shift the political discourse to focus on the South Pacific's potential and opportunities, desecuritize Australia's relationship with the region and diffuse concerns about continued Australian intervention by articulating a more cooperative approach.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-53
    JournalGlobal Change, Peace & Security
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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