Concluding today is the 49th Pacific Islands Forum, an annual three-day summit that has gone broadly unnoticed by much of the world. The few headlines that managed to creep their way into continental news agencies concerned a minor spat between the host, Nauru, and China, whose delegation eventually walked out of a meeting Sept. 4. Most overlooked the fact that forum members agreed in principle to jointly augment the national security of Pacific island nations.
The agreement, called the Boe Declaration, has been in the works for a few months. Australia and New Zealand, the two strongest forum nations, hinted in July that a new regional security architecture would be announced at the recent summit. Outspoken advocates of the declaration, Australia and New Zealand want to strengthen the forum to counter China’s growing economic influence in this part of the world. Until recently, the biggest threats to the forum were run-of-the-mill internal problems such as civil unrest and natural