Vanuatu's 1980 Santo rebellion: international responses to a microstate security crisis

Author/s (editor/s):

Matthew Gubb

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 107

Vanuatu's 1980 Santo Rebellion vividly illustrates the capacity of microstate security crises to cause disproportionately large international reverberations. The independence eve revolt in the island state prompted the dispatch of military forces from the other side of the world by Britain and France, the unprecedented overseas deployment of Papua New Guinean troops, the first postwar Australian involvement in a South Pacific military contingency, and energetic diplomacy at the United Nations and in the South Pacific Forum. The affair provides a unique window on attitudes to security cooperation in the region, and offers insights into both the security challenges facing microstates and the implications of these for associated larger powers. The present paper aims to place on record a fuller account of international handling of the Santo Rebellion than has hitherto been done, and to touch on some of the South Pacific and microstate security issues it illustrates.

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