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‘Pacific re-set’ theme for security course

Professor Rouben Azizian, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies (front, second from right) with participants and speakers at the course.

The implications of the New Zealand Government policy “reset” towards the Pacific Islands was the focus of a recent Massey University short course, with input from foreign ambassadors and diplomats.

The Centre for Defence and Security Studies’ professional development course on regional security was run in collaboration with the University’s Centre for Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) and hosted on Massey’s Wellington campus. 

The Pacific Security Dynamics course was attended by 22 participants from various New Zealand government agencies and non-governmental organisations. The key learning objectives of the course were to develop a comprehensive understanding of the complex regional security environment, and to consider multi-party collaborative responses to regional security challenges, says centre director, Professor Rouben Azizian.

Key topics within the “Pacific re-set” theme included shifts within regional geopolitics – such as China’s growing influence and Sino-US competition. Other issues covered were regional flashpoints, such as the upcoming independence referendum in Bougainville and the crystal methamphetamine crisis in the Pacific. Climate change impacts for inhabitants of low-lying islands and atolls in countries such as Tuvalu and Kiribati; transnational crime; and regional security cooperation mechanisms were also discussed. The course culminated with a scenario-based group planning exercise drawing on insights and discussion throughout the three-day course.

The course was taught and facilitated by Professor Azizian, along with Dr Germana Nicklin, Dr Anna Powles, Nicola Macaulay and Sirous Amerian, all from the centre. External speakers included foreign ambassadors and diplomats posted in Wellington, including the Ambassador of Argentina Fausto Lopez Crozet; Captain Christine Clark, Defence Attaché of Australia and Rear Admiral (retired) John Martin, formerly Chief of Royal New Zealand Navy. Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Humanities and Social Sciences Professor Cynthia White addressed the course participants at the graduation ceremony.  

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