State failure in the South Pacific and its implications for New Zealand security policy : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Defence Studies at Massey University
The concept of state failure is complex, encompassing many aspects of the decline in a state, from its institutional and political capacities, to its social cohesion and economic performance. In the South Pacific, the term "failing" has been used to describe the Solomon Islands before the regional assistance mission RAMSI intervened. Its continued use to describe other countries in the region, such as Papua New Guinea or Fiji is controversial, mainly because the states of the South Pacific are generally considered much more peaceful than those in other regions labelled failing. Importantly, the geographical nature of the region itself provides a vastly different strategic context to African and European failing states which are often situated in landlocked geographies. It follows on that if Pacific Island states do experience aspects of failure (as opposed to being completely collapsed or failed) then their incapacities would breed unique security implications for the South Pacific region. This thesis aims to discern what those implications are for New Zealand policy in the South Pacific region. The method used will be to assess seven countries (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu) and their degree to which they measure up against twelve indicators of state failure. These indicators have been borrowed from the Fund for Peace's annual Failed States Index (with their permission) and they provide the structure for the assessment.