The factors and causes for the failure of states in the South Pacific : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Defence and Strategic Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The modern notion of the state has had a difficult time in permeating the South Pacific. The problem is that the tiny South Pacific communities are in many ways simply too small to act as states in the traditional sense. Where this combines with severe ethnic and economic problems it is a powder keg that can result in a state's failure. The Pacific is clearly the most important region in New Zealand's immediate area of direct strategic interest, as it is in that region that all of New Zealand's goods must flow to reach the lucrative markets of the world. It is also through this region that the threats to New Zealand must pass. These threats are not necessarily foreign military forces, but things which can indirectly pose a threat to New Zealand's sovereignty such as the detrimental influence of the drugs trade on our society, the proximity of vulnerable economics to organised crime cartels and the risks, and problems associated with displaced persons forced from their Pacific homes in the wake of a state's collapse. A state's failure in New Zealand's area of direct strategic interest would pose a significant threat to New Zealand's territorial and economic security. To preserve New Zealand's sovereignty and to assist in protecting those within our area of strategic interest, New Zealand needs to be able to recognise those factors which can trigger a substantial failure within a state. An economically vulnerable state can be just a bigger threat to New Zealand as a violently imploding one. To understand and predict the possible outcomes for states in the South Pacific the idea of the state must be first understood. The inception of the modern state following the Treaty of Westphalia is a good place to start. Issues of sovereignty and ethnicity need to be considered when examining the state but despite these major issues the definition of a state can always be linked back to the ability of the controlling entity to exercise a monopoly of violence over its subjects. This forms the basis of the definition of the state and as an indicator used to determine if a state is failing or not. Though the monopoly of violence is a good indicator it is not the cause. There must be a number of factors that allow a state's controlling entity to loose control. These factors lead to a competition between groups that want to gain the ability to exercise a monopoly of violence over the state. The result of this competition is civil war, instability and ultimately the complete collapse of the societal and economic structure of the state.
Fiji, Politics and government, Solomon Islands, Tonga