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Otago Foreign Policy School focuses on geopolitics of the Pacific

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Wednesday 19 June 2013 9:42am

48th University of Otago Foreign Policy School Co-Directors Dr Iati Iati and Associate Professor Jenny Bryant-Tokalau

Critical developments and issues in the Pacific will be closely scrutinised at next weekend’s University of Otago Foreign Policy School, which is gathering leading academics, diplomats, politicians and development experts for a weekend that promises insightful presentations and fruitful debate.

Former Fijian Prime Minister Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka is among several speakers who will address the current Fiji Coup, the prospects for a successful return to democracy and what the wider implications for the region may be.

Other national and international experts will focus on themes including the US and China’s growing engagement with the Pacific, the uphill struggle the region faces in meeting millennium development goals, and the emergence of sub-regional groupings such as the Melanesian Spearhead Group that are challenging traditional voices such as the Pacific Islands Forum.

This year’s School, which runs from Friday 28 June to Sunday 30 June at St Margaret’s College, Dunedin, is co-directed by Associate Professor Jenny Bryant-Tokalau (School of Maori, Pacific & Indigenous Studies) and Dr Iati Iati (Department of Politics).

Dr Iati says that the School’s Academic Committee is delighted by the calibre of presenters who will be leading debate on pressing issues crucial to the future of the Pacific and New Zealand foreign policy-making.

“Deadlines are looming for both Fiji to return to democracy, and for Pacific nations to meet their agreed development goals. Whatever the outcomes are, they will have important and far-reaching implications for national and human security concerns in the region.”

Associate Professor Bryant-Tokalau noted that interwoven with the factors above are the continuing rise of China, its rivalry with the US for influence in the Pacific, and the emergence of strong sub-regional movements and whether they can be reconciled with region-wide approaches.

Among the speakers at the School is former New Zealand Ambassador Michael Powles who will give a presentation titled: “New Pacific Geopolitics: Do we have to choose between security, trade and our neighbours?”

Other presenters and their topics are:

Professor Terence Wesley-Smith
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
“The implications of the rise of China in the Pacific region”

Dr Alumita Durutalo
University of Otago
“Regional or sub-regional: Challenges and prospects for the Melanesian Spearhead Group”

Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka
Former PM of Fiji
“The Current Fiji Coup: The course ahead”

Associate Professor Penelope Schoeffel
National University of Samoa
“Key development challenges facing the Pacific with a focus on the Millennium Development Goals”

Dr Steven Ratuva
University of Auckland
“The Current Fiji Coup: What to expect”

Dr Gerard Finin
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center
“US perspectives about, and engagement with, the Pacific, particularly in relation to Australia, New Zealand, and China”

Professor Jon Fraenkel
Victoria University
“The Fiji Coup: Constitutional issues”

Dr Kennedy Graham
Green Party MP
“Climate change issues for the Pacific”

Dr Jenny Hayward-Jones
Lowy Institute
“The challenge the smaller regional organisations/groupings in the Pacific Islands region (MSG, Polynesian Leaders Group and PSIDS at the UN) pose to the Pacific Islands Forum”

Associate Professor Anne-Marie Brady
University of Canterbury
“A “Perfect Storm”: the Impact on NZ Interests of China’s Ever-Growing Presence in the South Pacific”

Mr Ernest Bower of the Center for Strategic and International Studies will also give a special lunchtime presentation.

Two panels at the School will focus on regional hegemons and development, respectively. The second panel features US Embassy to New Zealand official Colin Crosby.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Murray McCully will give the School’s opening address on the Friday evening.

A full programme can be found here and an online registration form is here. All are welcome to register for the School.

For more information, contact:

Dr Iati Iati
48th University of Otago Foreign Policy School
Tel 64 3 479 8665

Associate Professor Jenny Bryant-Tokalau
48th University of Otago Foreign Policy School
Tel 64 3 479 3974

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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