Volltext: How do states without defence forces defend themselves?

One such state that highlights the security challenges of post-colonial sovereignty is the Pacific 
state of Tuvalu. Tuvalu is a small nation of just 10,000 people spread across nine small atolls in 
the South Pacific?*. It has a land area of just 26 square kilometres (just 16% the size of 
Liechtenstein) spread across an Exclusive Economic Zone of 900,000 square kilometers of 
Ocean®®. Tuvaluans are a Polynesian people with cultural and linguistic similarities to Tongans, 
Samoans, Hawaiians and Maori. The islands shared traditions and culture but were not united 
politically, instead each island had its own council of elders or Falekaupule®’. While explorers, 
whalers, traders and missionaries all interacted with the islands of Tuvalu from as early as the 
1500s it was not until 1892 that Britain formally asserted colonial possession of the islands by 
making it a Protectorate of the British Empire under the name of the Ellice Islands within the 
colonial construct of the British Western pacific Territories. From 1916, the ethnically 
Polynesian Ellice Islands were joined with the ethnically Micronesian Gilbert Islands to become 
the Crown Colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands®®. 
The Gilbert and Ellice Islands attracted little interest until the Second World War when the 
Japanese invaded the Gilberts. The Ellice Islands became a major allied air and sea base and 
were used for the recapture of the Gilberts, in particular the Makin and Tarawa campaigns. The 
Ellice Islands themselves were never invaded. The war opened the Ellice Islands to the world 
and left a legacy of infrastructure in the form of an airfield and port but also considerable 
environmental damage from this construction. 
The Gilbert and Ellice Islands resumed their status as a quiet backwater of the Brirish Empire 
after the war, but as the United Nations decolonization movement gathered pace and Britain 
looked to divest itself of responsibilities to the East of Suez, discussion turned to self- 
government and eventual independence for the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. The Tuvaluan 
speaking, Polynesian, and less numerous Ellice Islanders did not welcome the prospect of 
being in independent union with the far more numerous, Gilbertese speaking, Micronesian 
Gilbert Islanders and so after a referendum in 1974 it was agreed to establish two self- 
governing territories. In 1978 the Ellice Islands became Tuvalu, retaining Queen Elizabeth || as 
Head of State®. The Gilbert Islands became Kiribati in 1979 as a Parliamentary Republic under 
°° Central Intelligence Agency, 877-879. 
36 Tuvalu EEZ Data http://www.seaaroundus.org/data/#/eez . 
*" Talakatoa O'Brien, Genesis, in Hugh Laracy (ed.) Tuvalu: A History, (Suva: University of the 
South Pacific Press), 1983, 13-18. 
*? Noatea P. Teo, Colonial Rule, in Ibid, 127-129. 
9$? Tuvalu's Commonwealth Status.http://thecommonwealth.org/our-member- 


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