- Federated States of Micronesia
Reviews of Kiribati, Nauru, Northern Marianas, and Palau are not included in this issue.
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) enjoyed a season of calm during the period under review, certainly in contrast to the tumult of recent years. But in foreign relations, the federation grappled with temperamental and tempestuous regional and international forces, even as it attempted to enhance its stature as a constructive member of the international community.
Two major developments dominated the foreign side of the ledger for the FSM during the period in review: the assumption by the FSM government of the chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, an intergovernmental grouping of independent and self-governing states in the Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand) whose stated aim is to enhance the economic and social well-being of its members through cooperation between those governments and relevant regional and international agencies (pifs 2017); and an escalation of efforts by the Government of Guam to address the growing number of inmates in Guam prisons from the FSM, including through unprecedented and legally questionable means. In each situation, the FSM attempted to navigate various thorny issues while projecting an aura of authority and independence, with varying degrees of success.
The assumption of the chair of the Forum—a one-year term—was a diplomatic and political coup for the FSM, marking the first-ever chairing of the Forum by the FSM government, but it was nearly derailed before it began. When a Forum member assumes the chair, it typically hosts all other Forum members in its territory for a major annual meeting. The gathering is a significant logistical challenge, where the new chair welcomes not just the Forum members from the Pacific but also "dialogue partners" from around the globe, including the United States, China, and Japan. The FSM was slated to host the forty-seventh meeting of the Forum from 7 to 11 September 2016 in Pohnpei. A few months before the meeting, however, FSM government officials publicly expressed concerns about the logistical capacity of Pohnpei to host the meeting, particularly in terms of lodging. In response, the FSM government asked foreign delegations attending the meeting to limit their delegations to heads of state or heads of government, their spouses, and five support personnel for each delegation—a tall task for Forum members such as Australia and New Zealand, as well as the major dialogue partners, all of which typically bring large delegations and hordes of media personnel to the annual Forum meetings (kp, 23 June 2016).
By the time the Forum meeting [End Page 126] rolled around, the FSM government seemed to have addressed the logistical hassles involved—including by enlisting homestays to accommodate excess participants—and so the government was able to turn its attention to substantive discussions. The meeting's official theme was "Small and Far: Challenges for Growth" (Wyeth 2016). In addressing the theme, the meeting tackled a wide range of regional issues, including fisheries, maritime surveillance, pacer-Plus trade negotiations, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and climate change (fsmis, 19 Sept 2016). On climate change, the smaller, developing members of the Forum banded together to push for a proposal from the Forum to the Green Climate Fund, which is a mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (unfccc) that finances adaptation and mitigation projects. Stressing the difficulty they experience in accessing the Green Climate Fund and similar funds, these members called on the developed members of the Forum (ie, Australia and New Zealand) to assist them in their efforts to access the funds (rnz 2016a). Additionally, and of more immediate consequence, the Forum Leaders endorsed the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific: An Integrated Approach to Address Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (frdp). With memories of widespread devastation from Typhoon Maysak and Cyclones Pam and Winston still fresh in the minds of Forum members, the frdp casts climate change and natural disasters as potent development challenges and calls on Forum members to address vulnerabilities to climate change and disasters and to mainstream relevant management approaches throughout their policy making in all sectors, ideally in time for the entry...