An overlooked multilateral organization in the South Pacific is about to get a facelift. Until now, relations between the members of the Pacific Islands Forum, which comprises Australia and New Zealand as well as 16 other Pacific island nations, have been defined by the Biketawa Declaration. Signed in 2000, Biketawa outlines how South Pacific nations deal with a regional crisis – and it served as the formal mechanism by which Australian and New Zealand forces were deployed to the Solomon Islands, Nauru and Tonga in recent years. Biketawa envisioned a post-Cold War world in which the biggest threats were internal. But the world has changed, and so must Biketawa.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was the first to announce the move. On July 5, it said a new security agreement was going to be signed at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru in September. Australia’s international development minister added a little more detail, explaining to The Australian that the n