|Oceanic Organisation (1983: Doomsday)|
Flag of the Organisation
ANZ in green; other OO members in blue
|Predecessor||South Pacific Commission and Forum (SPCF)|
|Formation||30 August 2015|
|Type||Regional intergovernmental and military alliance and free-trade zone|
|Headquarters||Jervis Bay, Australia|
|Region served||Pacific and Indian Oceans|
|Membership||15 countries, 1 observer|
|Chairman||President Rukebai Inabo|
|General Secretary||Joe Natuman|
|Supreme Commander||Admiral John Martin|
The Oceanic Organisation is the intergovernmental and military alliance for the countries in Free Association with the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand. It was created to foster unity, dialogue and strategic coordination among this community of states; through this organisation, what had been a collection of countries joined by bilateral treaties with the ANZC became a well-defined group. Through the OO the allied nations cooperate in various matters, in particular security, trade, technical assistance, and sports.
- 1 Members
- 2 History
- 3 Structure
- 4 Symbols
- Australia-New Zealand
- Cook Islands
- East Timor
- Norfolk Island
- Papua New Guinea
The members are a diverse group. Most have a history under British or American colonialism and therefore speak English, but East Timor's history and language are Portuguese. Most are island nations, hence the name "Oceanic", but Alaska and the Yukon are in mainland North America - and the Yukon is landlocked. Most are independent countries and League of Nations members, but a few are still considered dependencies of the ANZC. Many have followed the lead of Australia-New Zealand in setting up republican forms of government, but others have restored local monarchies or links to the British monarchy. In the end, despite efforts to create a common identity, all that really links the OO members is their connection to Australia and New Zealand.
The individual member states of the ANZC - Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia, and Samoa - participate in some of the OO's agencies individually, namely the Fisheries Agency and the Oceanic Games Committee.
Mauritius became an observer nation at the 2021 convention and is expected to continue participating in this way. It is the first nation to have this status.
While the OO is clearly dominated by a single power, it also considers itself a successor to the prewar regional organisations of Oceania.
The South Pacific Commission (SPC) was created after the Second World War by the victorious Allied nations that had territory in the Pacific: France, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the Netherlands. The goal was to bring stability to a region that had been torn by war; however, its charter specifically excluded military and security matters from its mandate. It focused instead on welfare and development. In the next few decades the organistion evolved as one nation after another became independent. The SPC began sponsoring regional cultural efforts such as the South Pacific Games and the Festival of Pacific Arts. Its headquarters was in New Caledonia.
The South Pacific Forum was founded in 1971. The Forum excluded the U.S. and the European powers and was therefore more clearly centered around Australia and New Zealand. Compared to the SPC, its mission was less clearly defined and therefore more adaptable. In the 70s and 80s, the Forum established several programmes: a disaster relief fund, a fisheries agency, an energy unit, and a free trade zone. The Forum, like the SPC, grew as more island nations gained independence. Its headquarters was built in Fiji.
Oceanian cooperation following Doomsday
The nuclear cataclysm of the Third World War made regional cooperation a matter of urgency. The mainland powers were gone and many nations were suffering badly, not least of all Australia, whose largest cities had been brutally attacked. Targets in US-controlled Hawaii, Guam and the Marshall Islands were also destroyed. And every part of the region suffered from the sudden breakdown of the global economy.
The secretariats of both regional organisations were safe, and they immediately activated what funds they could to help in the emergency. But of course there was not enough. Australia, which had been the economic driver of the Pacific, had to completely focus on its own recovery; New Zealand was too small to completely fill Australia's shoes, and anyway it too was facing economic catastrophe.
Despite these enormous difficulties, the Pacific states strove to cooperate when they could. In the earliest years this amounted to little more than maintaining lines of communication and sharing technical advice. But many honestly feared that Oceania was the only intact part of the globe, and that it now had the duty to preserve and rebuild human civilisation.
Meanwhile the Gathering Order began to draw elements of the American and British armed forces to the Pacific, while in New Caledonia the French Foreign Legion was reestablished to organise French security forces. As the initial crisis of 1983 gave way to the new normal of the 1980s, some of these military units were called on to do relief work in the smaller islands, though the lack of supplies and especially of fuel prevented any large-scale missions.
In 1986 in Auckland, leaders from several of the Pacific nations met for the first time since Doomsday to draw up a new plan for the region. The architecture of the old organisations was still useful, but it would be necessary to streamline them. The two bodies were combined into one, the South Pacific Commission and Forum, SPCF. The Forum served as the basis for the new organisation and its headquarters would remain in Fiji. Importantly, the new system included agreements on security and strategy, allowing Australia, New Zealand and France to collaborate on sending peacekeeping forces to trouble spots anywhere in the South Pacific.
As reliable contact was restored with the more far-flung nations like Micronesia, Tahiti, and Hawaii, they were welcomed back into the Commission and Forum. The SPCF was still not able to act as a fully functional regional alliance in those difficult postwar years. Indeed, even basic communication between islands was sporadic at times. But the organisation was a symbol of hope that the world could be put back together.
Rise of Australia-New Zealand
The union between Australia and New Zealand realigned the entire Pacific Ocean region. This assertive new power had inherited a useful tool from the U.S. and New Zealand governments: the treaty of free association. The original set of Associated States had already been in Free Association with New Zealand or America, or had been states, namely Alaska and Hawaii. But immediately the Commonwealth started to offer this status to independent countries - Tuvalu in 1995, Nauru in 1998, Kiribati in 1999. A more explicitly ANZ-centered order seemed to be replacing the old vision of collaboration among equal nations. The Commonwealth government's aggressive moves in the Panama Canal Zone in the early 2000s created mistrust, especially among the French and Fijians.
The SPCF was still an active and relevant organisation. Most notably, it created a new agency, the WCRB, in 2004 to explore and bring relief to devastated regions. Beyond this, it became a more effective aid organisation among the Pacific nations as economies improved and trade began to revive.
But trust is hard to recover once lost, and many began to doubt that a neutral Pacific organisation was possible when it was dominated by such a large power bloc. French and Tongan leaders sought closer ties to the South American nations, hoping that a larger worldwide system could replace the increasingly unipolar one in Oceania. Their efforts were instrumental in the creation of the new League of Nations in 2008. They also successfully argued that some of the Commission and Forum's agencies, including the WCRB, be transferred to the League's new structure.
In Fiji, the response was quite different. A fiercely isolationist government seized power in the mid-2000s. Since the SPCF was headquartered there, this made operations increasingly difficult for the organisation. Fiji refused to participate in the League of Nations talks. Once it was decided that the WCRB would relocate from Fiji to Tonga, the Fijian government announced that it was withdrawing from the Commission and Forum entirely and that its buildings would be seized. These events effectively killed the organisation.
Fragments of the SPCF
The various agencies of the SPCF - disaster aid, fisheries, arts, and so forth - kept functioning, still as ever propped up mostly by Australia and New Zealand. But the Fiji crisis and the rise of the League of Nations had made the body overall seem superfluous. France and Tonga asked to renegotiate in 2009, so that they could back out of the security arrangements of 1986. The result was a fracturing of the SPCF into multiple independent organisations. Some of these were now based in Tonga, others in New Caledonia or Auckland.
Creating the OO
By 2007, all of the nations still party to the SPCF security agreement had become Associated States of the ANZC, Vanuatu becoming one that year. So this treaty went dormant but was not quite dead, and the ANZC was to repurpose it as a way to organise its sphere of influence.
The constellation of ANZ-associated states had become a formidable bloc by the 2010s. Around fifteen nations now had free association treaties, stretching across the Indian Ocean as well as the Pacific. The ANZC navy was the strongest in both oceans. Strategists now felt a need to bring more order to this system. The successful expansion of the USSR-backed Collective Security Treaty Organization provided a model, while the old SPCF would provide the rationale and some of the bureaucratic architecture.
Heads of government of the ANZC and its associated states met in Port Moresby in 2015. The name Oceanic Organisation was chosen to include the members in the North Pacific (Alaska and Yukon) and Indian Oceans (East Timor and the Maldives). But while the OO was presented as a successor to the earlier Pacific organisations, its form and structure owed more to the CSTO and the old Warsaw Pact. The military command structure would be separate from the annual convention of member states, which in the end was mostly advisory. The small islands would not be permitted to overrule military decisions by the Commonwealth.
The bilateral Treaties of Free Association were not all identical; each one had been adapted to local conditions. A small island dependency like Norfolk required much more direct involvement by the Commonwealth government than a large country that had enjoyed years of independence like Papua. So the new system had to be broad enough to accommodate these different relationships.
Activities of the OO
At its founding, alliance leaders hoped that the OO could expand beyond the associated states - that other countries could join the organisation without a bilateral treaty with the ANZC. Fiji, an increasingly close ally since the mid-2010s, is an obvious candidate, as are other close partners like El Salvador, Vietnam, and even India. But so far this expansion has not occurred.
In recent years the agencies of the OO (see below) have involved themselves in various projects around the region. Notable among them include habitat preservation efforts in Vanuatu, clean water initiatives in Papua, and the revival of the South Pacific Games, renamed the Oceanic Games. The Oceanic Joint Security Force has been deployed to respond to a number of situations and crises.
Perhaps the most important consequence of the Oceanic Organisation has been to provide a common identity for the allied nations and their people, leaders, and troops.
In 2018, construction finished for the OO's permanent headquarters, Oceanic House, at a dramatic spot overlooking Jervis Bay's waterfront. The organisation's convention was held there that year. This was the only time that the convention was held in the ANZC itself; it's expected that most future conventions will be in smaller member states to balance out the ANZC's otherwise outsized role.
While the Organisation officially does not concern itself with the internal politics of members, it has applied pressure with the overall goal of governments that are both loyal and democratic. The Maldives, probably the least democratic of all the members, had elections in 2017 that brought the pro-democracy Human Rights Party into power. Immediately the OO Secretariat, hoping to prop up the new regime, increased its humanitarian and environmental aid, and the Security Command gave a boost to troop levels stationed in the country.
|2015||Port Moresby, Papua|
|2017||Port Vila, Vanuatu|
|2018||Jervis Bay, Australia-New Zealand|
|2019||Díli, East Timor|
The annual Convention, composed of the heads of government of member nations, is de jure the governing body of the Organisation. In fact, the founding charter limits its power; the individual agencies of the OO, especially the Security Command, have a great deal of power to act autonomously.
The location of the Convention rotates among member states each year. The head of government of the host country chairs that convention and holds the title of Chairman or woman for the year.
The General Secretary coordinates the OO's agencies, manages its day-to-day affairs, and acts as the face of the organisation. He or she is appointed to a three-year term by the Convention. The Secretariat is located in Oceanic House, a modern building on the waterfront of Jervis Bay, capital of the ANZC. It was completed in 2018; before that, the Secretariat used various offices belonging to the ANZC Foreign Ministry.
Under the OO charter treaty, member nations pledge to align their armed forces with the overall strategic goals set by the Organisation. This applies differently in different places: some members, such as Norfolk Island, have no armed forces of their own and are completely dependent on the ANZC for matters of defence. Others, like the Maldives, have fully developed, if small, militaries of their own. Some like Hawaii fall in between, with militias rather than militaries.
The OO Security Command is headed by a Supreme Commander, who so far has always been an ANZC general officer. The Supreme Commander serves as the top-ranking officer in the alliance. He leads a Security Committee composed of officers from the member states.
The OO directly controls the Oceanic Joint Security Force, a multinational military unit based in Australia and consisting of air, sea, and marine infantry forces.
OO Security Command also coordinates an exchange programme whereby members of allied armed forces are deployed to ANZC bases around the region. Troops at these bases now wear OO insignia as well as national identifiers.
The Economic Council consists of trade and finance ministers from the member states. The ANZC and its associated states already formed a de facto free trade area prior to the OO's creation, due to the commercial provisions of their bilateral treaties. The Economic Council now regulates that trade. The language describing this in the OO charter would allow potential future members to join the Organisation without becoming part of the free-trade zone, but currently all members are part of it.
The majority of member states use the ANZ Commonwealth dollar as their currency; however, Vanuatu and the Maldives use their own distinct currencies.
Council on Geoscience and Ecology
The CGE provides scientific and technical assistance to help maintain the environmental health of each member nation. This is an old SPCF agency that was absorbed into the new organisation; for that reason, it has extended help to nonmember states such as New Caledonia and French Polynesia.
This is another old SPCF programme that the League of Nations did not adopt, so it was taken into the OO. Tonga participates despite not being an OO member, as it was grandfathered in from the old organisation. Fishing is the largest sector of most member nations' economies, so the agency's work is of particular importance. It works to promote healthy and sustainable fisheries and provide guidance about investment and infrastructure. Much of its work is done by subregional offices that coordinate fishing in different parts of the ocean.
The Oceanic Games
The South Pacific Games also fell under the OO's purview. They have been rebranded the Oceanic Games and opened up to Indian Ocean as well as Pacific nations. While the OO runs the Games, nonmember nations regularly compete in them and even sit on the Oceanic Games Committee. In 2018, a nonmember, New Caledonia, acted as the Games' host.
Before the OO took over the Games, they had been held only sporadically. Since being adopted by the organisation, they have taken place each year, usually in August or September.
Alaska and the Yukon led the development of the Oceanic Winter Games. The inaugural winter games took place in Seward, Alaska, in February 2020. The plan is to hold them every two years rather than annually.
The main symbol of the organisation is a circular version of a traditional Marshall Islands stick map. Some of these maps depict the location of specific islands within archipelagoes; but others, like the one used here, schematically show the pattern of waves between two islands. Besides being a traditional Oceanian map, the choice of symbol reflects the idea of forming connections among different parts of the ocean.
On the organisation's flag, the map is placed on a bicolour representing the sea and sky. For the official flag the symbol is placed toward the hoist, but versions also exist where it's in the center.