Senator Schatz co-introduces bipartisan bill to elevate Oceania in U.S. foreign policy
May 21, 2021 at 11:20 am HST
U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and U.S. Representatives Ami Bera, MD (D-CA) and Don Young (RK) introduced the law Honoring our commitment to elevate the neighboring islands of America and Their Allies, or Honoring the OCEANIA Law.
The bipartisan bill would uplift all of Oceania in U.S. foreign policy making to help provide strong diplomatic and development engagement to support the region’s long-term growth, governance and resilience needs. .
Oceania is a geographic region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, and has a population of over 41 million people.
âWe have deep cultural, historical and family ties with Oceania, based on our shared commitment to democratic progress, the protection of marine resources and the fight against the global climate crisis,â said Senator Schatz, member of the senatorial commission for foreign relations. âOur bill reinforces our foreign policy commitment to Oceania by ensuring that we align all the tools of U.S. diplomacy to strengthen people-to-people bonds and support the economic needs and long-term resilience goals of our allies and partners in the region. . ”
the Honor the OCEANIA Act would have:
- Require the Secretary of State and the Administrator of USAID to include all the Least Developed and Independent Developing Countries of Oceania in existing processes of strategic planning and evaluation of multisectoral programs so that States United are aligning their foreign assistance mission in Oceania to advance the needs of the region.
- Demand from the CEO of the US International Development Finance Corporation to develop a strategy to increase development finance assistance to countries in Oceania wherever there is adequate capacity to absorb private finance.
- Demand that the Secretary of State put in place a program to strengthen disaster risk reduction and resilience in the countries of Oceania that would strengthen the national capacities of first responders and develop early warning systems that can reach all communities vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters.
- Elevate all of Oceania in US national security and economic policy decisions to ensure that the US works with its allies to resolve issues in the region, such as: maritime security; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; environmental protection; and disaster preparedness.
- Require the Secretary of State, in collaboration with other agencies, to develop a program to inform needs assessments and planning of countries in Oceania to protect critical infrastructure against climate threats and other hazards.
- Require the Secretaries of State and of Health and Human Services to establish a funding program and other skills that will help build public health capacity and improve access to care and local health outcomes .
- Establish an Oceania Restoration and Hazard Elimination program within the State Department that would support the monitoring, isolation and cleanup of buried, abandoned and unexploded WWII ordinances and submerged ships that exhibit a risk for the marine environment.
- Establish a program to provide technical and financial assistance to civil society organizations and governments to fight corruption in Oceania
- Order Secretaries of State, along with other agency heads, to work together to use the Global Magnitsky Act to identify and sanction foreigners engaged in corrupt practices in Oceania that threaten economic and democratic progress.
âDuring my tenure as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I was fortunate enough to travel across Oceania where I developed a better understanding of the US-Oceania relationship – a relationship that we often overlook and take for granted, âsaid Senator Murkowski. âRather than being a reliable ally and devoting resources to promoting sustainability in the region, the United States has relied on other nations to fill in the gaps. My experience working in the Arctic has taught me that it takes commitment and dedication to be accountable to the people and remote places of the Americas.
âCurrent US policies are not strong enough to respond to the complex and growing security challenges of the Asia-Pacific region. We know that the Chinese are keen to assert their influence in this region, which forces us to give it the attention it deserves. Among many provisions, the OCEANIA Compliance Act calls for broader diplomatic and development engagement with Oceania and reinforces traditional maritime security programs developed by the US Navy and US Coast Guard. The bill also provides important targeted assistance in areas such as disaster risk reduction, maritime safety and other sustainable development goals.