Leaders of Pacific security agencies recently met virtually for Joint Heads of Pacific Security (JHOPS) 2021. The annual event is a Pacific Step-up initiative that provides an opportunity for heads of police, defence, immigration and customs to share ideas and discuss solutions to common security challenges. This year’s event, focused on COVID-19 recovery in the Pacific, was the third occurrence and the second virtual meeting. Participants considered security challenges, including the re-opening of international borders.
Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell said COVID-19 had changed our world and required agile responses from our governments, and joint action by agencies. “Through it all, the Pacific community has remained closely engaged. This past year has seen us collectively tackle overlapping challenges from COVID-19, tropical cyclones and bushfires, and regional maritime security,” he said. “We continue to come together with a shared sense of purpose; a commitment to an open, inclusive and rules-based Pacific. Through forums like JHOPS we learn from each other and grow stronger as a community,” Campbell said.
Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram said all JHOPS participants bring something to the table. “Through our partnerships, collaboration and technology we are keeping our borders safe. We are able to achieve more through economies of scale,” Outram said. “Together we are more effective at identifying and mitigating risk; and we can maximise our law-enforcement presence, and better direct it to where it has the greatest impact. Our joint initiatives from container control programs to the establishment of secure trade lanes, and joint maritime surveillance, under the Pacific Maritime Security Program are making a difference,” Outram said.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said our international partnerships are making an important contribution to regional security. “Transnational serious organised crime impacts our collective families, communities and societies,” he said. “Through shared technology, capabilities and insights we are detecting, disrupting and deterring transnational criminal activity both on and offshore,” Kershaw said.
Campbell said discussions centred on our combined long-term recovery. “We must plan a way forward to a new-normal, continue to adapt, deliver security outcomes, and protect our collective communities,” he said. “Our ability to do so is based on partnerships. We are stronger together,” Campbell said.
Security leaders from 24 nations and territories, and five regional bodies attended the JHOPS 2021 event. Japan and the United States of America joined for the second time; along with representatives from several Pacific forums.