Climate change poses severe threats to developing countries. Scientists predict entire states (e.g. Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and Maldives) will become inhabitable. People living in these states have to resettle to other countries. Media and politicians warn that climate change will trigger migration flows in dimensions unknown to date. It is feared that millions from developing countries overwhelm developed societies and increase pressures on anyway ailing social support systems destabilizing societies and becoming a potential source of conflict.
Inhabitants of Pacific Islandsa have been mobile since the islands were first settled not longer than 3,500 years ago. Since then people moved around, expanded their reach, and traded with neighbouring tribes (and later countries). With the event of European powers in the 15th century independent mobility became restricted after the beginning of the 19th century. From the second half of the 19th century movements of people predominately served economic interests of colonial powers, in particular a huge colonial appetite for labour. After independence emigration from Pacific Island countries continued to serve economic interest of metropolitan countries at the rim of the Pacific Ocean, which are able to direct migration flows according to their economic requirements.
If climate change resettlements become necessary in big numbers then Pacific Islanders do not want to become climate change refugees. To include environmental reasons in refugee conventions is not what Pacific Islanders want. They want to migrate in dignity, if it becomes unavoidable to leave their homes. There are good reasons to solve the challenges within Pacific Island societies and do not depend too much on metropolitan neighbours at the rim of the Pacific such as Australia, New Zealand and the USA. To rise to the challenge requires enhanced Pan-Pacific Island solidarity and South-South cooperation. This then would result in a reduction of dependencies. For metropolitan powers still much can be done in supporting capacity building in Pacific Island countries and helping the economies to proposer so that climate change migrants easier can be absorbed by expanding labour markets in Pacific Island countries.
Between 1987 and 2006 Fiji experienced four coups in which Governments were overthrown by their military forces or parts of it. After the fourth coup in December 2006 old metropolitan friends such as Australia, New Zealand, the USA and the EU responded with travel sanctions, cancellation of military cooperation and frozen development assistance. When Fiji was politically isolated it fostered secondary political friendships of olden days and established new ones. The paper searches for evidence of Fiji’s agency to change the structure of its International Relations (IR) after the coup of 2000. Such relations were first shaped in Prime Minister Qarase’s ‘Look North’ policy, but following the coup of December 2006 Fiji’s IR took a new quality once political isolation was overcome and internal power stabilized. The paper concentrates on Indo- Fijian relations, which, however, are embedded in Fiji’s general effort to achieve greater independence from old friends by forcing new international relationships. Of particular interest in this context is, if Fiji’s political orientation after 2006 has just been a temporary necessity born out of political isolation or if Fiji’s policy of fostering South–South relations will remain a decisive element of the country’s foreign policy in the long term. To understand IR in the context of Fiji and India it is essential to look at both countries, their interests and agency. Looking at Fiji alone would leave the question unanswered, why Indian Governments had an interest to cooperate with the country in the Pacific Islands despite hard-core nationalist anti-Indian sentiments and politics pursued in Fiji after the coup of 2000. It also won’t be conclusive why India should be interested at all to foster high profile relations with a tiny country like Fiji in a situation when Indian governments were aiming at much higher goals.