Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 07:22 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 07:22 | SYDNEY

Fiji and the UN: Everything old is new again


Jenny Hayward-Jones


1 May 2009 14:28

John Boonstra, blogging at UN Dispatch, has picked up on some Australian diplomatic sleight of hand. Prime Minister Rudd expressed concern in a press conference on 28 April that the revenue remittances from Fijian forces working with UN peacekeeping missions were helping sustain Fiji’s military regime. He announced:

Through our own interventions with the United Nations and supported by New Zealand and other countries, the United Nations now is not going to engage future or new Fijian troops for new operations. [My emphasis]

However, this UN press briefing suggests this concept is not exactly new, and clarifies that Fijian troops are still serving in UN missions. The UN Secretary-General’s spokesperson responds to a question about Rudd’s announcement of a 'new decision by the UN' by referring the journalist back to the Australian Government, suggesting the UN was unaware of any new diplomatic efforts by Australia on the peacekeeping issue.

There are 282 Fijians currently serving on peacekeeping missions in Iraq, Liberia, Sudan, Darfur and East Timor, including 51 police, 8 military observers and 223 soldiers. (By comparison, Australia has 114; 75 police, 25 military observers and 14 soldiers.) 

Fiji has challenged the talk of UN restrictions on Fiji peacekeepers. Australia and New Zealand, ahead of the likely suspension of Fiji from the Pacific Island Forum today, are clearly seeking to build the support of the international community to isolate Fiji’s military regime. The UN, it seems, is not quite convinced.