An article in the June 2005 edition of Le Monde Diplomatique (“An unknown unstable area: the Pacific Islands”) concluded:
Will the Pacific islands find peace and prosperity without their way of life being disrupted by the intrusion of major powers? This is the main issue of this “other Pacific” that has too little to hold the attention of the media, but that counts too much to be allowed to live its own life.
Ten years later, this analysis not only remains valid, but is amplified by new economic, political and security stakes (such as the threat of terrorism). The global crisis also comes in Oceania and the major powers are aware of their interest for certain resources. Oceania is not empty. It is not — or no longer — the “invisible continent” of Le Clézio.
The major powers are positioning themselves in the global competition, but they also extend their regional rivalries in Oceania (e.g. China / Taiwan, China / United States).
Hillary Clinton’s travels when she was Secretary of State confirmed that the Americans were attentive to the problems of Oceania (included in the great Pacific). Thus, in the Cook Islands, in late August 2012, during the summit of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in which the United States was present for the first time, she said that the Pacific Ocean “is big enough for all of us” while citing China, Japan and the European Union. “We all have a role and greatly contribute to the success of the region’s security and prosperity”, she added. This was a very diplomatic way to lay the groundwork to counteract other states.
In the logical follow-up of the collective work already done (April 2008 Symposium of the Senate on New Caledonia, March 2011 Noumea symposium on “Destinies of the overseas territories of Oceania”), we intend to contribute to the multidisciplinary research program around the theme of coveted Oceania.
Economists, lawyers, political scientists, historians and anthropologists, geopolitical and geostrategic specialists are welcome.
Their research will be of particular interest to policymakers of the Pacific region and of the major powers that still have control, or not, over Pacific overseas territories, since its goal will be to develop a geopolitical and geostrategic appraisal (with all possible facets) that has not been done since the work in 2001 of H. Knife-Bégarie, who died recently.
Thus, the project addresses an intellectual need and a practical necessity (i.e., to make sense of current events in our Pacific area).
At first glance, many researchers could think that the research focuses on Chinese aims. Those will of course have an important place in this 2016 conference, but the research will not neglect all other countries that — in one way or another — are also interested in the resources that Oceania has to offer.