Associate Professor Joanne Wallis

PhD (Politics & International Studies), University of Cambridge; MA (Political Science); LLM (Public & International Law); BA (Hons in Political Science); LLB (Hons), University of Melbourne
Associate Professor, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
College of Asia & the Pacific
T: +61 2 6125 9936

Areas of expertise

  • Comparative Government And Politics 160603
  • Government And Politics Of Asia And The Pacific 160606
  • International Relations 160607
  • Citizenship 160602
  • Constitutional Law 180108
  • International Law (Excl. International Trade Law) 180116
  • Law And Society 180119

Research interests

The Pacific Islands (particularly Timor-Leste and Bougainville); state-building, nation-building and peace-building; constitution-making; ethnicity and nationalism; war, conflict and post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation; security in the Pacific Islands; and Australia's strategy in the South Pacific


Joanne Wallis is an Associate Professor in the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre. From July 2020 she will be Professor of International Security at the University of Adelaide.

Joanne is the author or editor of seven books, including Constitution making during State building (CUP 2014) and Pacific Power? Australia's Strategy in the Pacific Islands (MUP 2017).

Joanne is the chief investigator on two ARC Discovery Projects, analysing Australian interventions in the Pacific Islands and the operation of the Australia-New Zealand alliance.

Joanne is an Associate Editor of Peacebuildingon the editorial advisory committee of Asia Policy and the international advisory board of The Round Table.

Joanne completed her PhD in 2012 at the University of Cambridge as a Poynton Cambridge Australia and Wolfson College Commonwealth scholar. She holds Masters degrees in Arts and Law from the University of Melbourne.

Joanne has been a Fulbright Scholar at the Walker Institute of International & Area Studies, University of South Carolina, a Visiting Scholar at the State, Society & Governance in Melanesia Project, Australian National University, an Honorary Fellow of the School of Social & Political Sciences, University of Melbourne and a Visiting Scholar at the East-West Center, Honolulu.

Joanne is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In 2016 she won a National Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning and ANU Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence. She has taught at the Australian War College, University of Cambridge, University of Melbourne and Swinburne University. 

Joanne regularly briefs government agencies, conducts consultancies for NGOs, writes analyses for think tanks and participates in international strategic dialogues, including as a delegate to the Australia-America Leadership Dialogue.

Joanne was previously a lawyer at Allens Arthur Robinson (now Allens Linklaters) and is admitted as a barrister and solicitor in the Supreme Court of Victoria and High Court of Australia.

Joanne has three children and was on maternity leave January-November 2015 and February 2017-September 2018.

Personal website:

Researcher's projects

My first research agenda focuses on peace building, with a particular focus on the Pacific Islands. 

Constitution making during State building (Cambridge University Press, 2014; reprinted in paperback 2016)

This book represents a sustained attempt to examine the role that public participation has played during constitution making and its consequences for state performance, using case studies of Timor-Leste and Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. It is also one of the first attempts to conduct a detailed empirical study of the role played by a 'hybrid’ approach to state building.

Reviewed in The Round Table: and Pacific Affairs:

Research stemming from this book is forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Constitutional Law in Asia, Elgar Handbook of Constitution-Making and Routledge Handbook of Timor-Leste. I was also invited to appear before the House of Representatives Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade 'Inquiry into Australia's Relationship with Timor-Leste' to speak about this research (;db=COMMITTEES;id=committees%2Fcommjnt%2F369601b0-9b29-484e-8b48-157e4605a18a%2F0007;query=Id%3A%22committees%2Fcommjnt%2F369601b0-9b29-484e-8b48-157e4605a18a%2F0000%22).

The impact of political reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific (ARC Discovery Project DP140102388, 2014-2018)

With Renee Jeffery and Lia Kent, I have examined the contribution that political reconciliation processes, practices and events make to the pursuit of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific, using case studies of Bougainville, Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands.

In September 2016 Lia and I convened a writers' workshop on the topic 'Transitional Justice and Civil Society in Asia and the Pacific' at the ANU, for which we received funding from the ANU Asia-Pacific Innovation Program. Our international speakers included Vasuki Nesiah (New York University), Jelena Subotic (Georgia State University) and Joanna Quinn (Western University).

Lia, Claire Cronin and I have edited a book for ANU Press, Civil Society and Transitional Justice in Asia and the Pacific, based on papers delivered at the workshop:

Lia and I have also edited a special issue of Global Change, Peace and Security on 'Reconceiving civil society and transitional justice: lessons from Asia and the Pacific', which explores the idea of enabling and disabling transitional justice and civil society:

Doing State-building better? Practising Hybridity in Melanesia (ARC Discovery Project DP160104692, 2016-2021) 

Australia is engaged in programs that draw upon local socio-political practices and institutions to assist its efforts to stabilise and build states in Melanesia, referred to as a ‘hybridity’ approach. For this project, I am considering the paradox that, while Australia has successfully restored stability in its immediate region, Melanesia, its attempts to build stable liberal democracies have had modest results.

Hybridity on the Ground in Peacebuilding and Development (ANU Press, 2018)

With Miranda Forsyth, Lia Kent, Sinclair Dinnen and Srinjoy Bose, I have examined the concept of hybridity across disciplines and case studies. In 2015 we received the Coral Bell School Horizons grant to organise a series of nine seminars on this topic: The seminars culminated in a writers' workshop in December 2015 at which Professor Oliver Richmond (University of Manchester) delivered the keynote lecture, for which we received funding from the Research School of Asia and the Pacific.

We have edited a book for ANU Press, Hybridity in Peacebuilding and Development: Critical Conversations, based on the papers delivered at the workshop:

We have also developed the concept of 'critical hybridity' on which we have edited a special issue of Third World Thematics: A Third World Quarterly Journal: and as an edited book, Hybridity in Peacebuilding and Development: A Critical and Reflexive Approach:  

My second research agenda focuses on security and strategy in the Pacific Islands. 

Pacific Power? Australia's strategy in the Pacific Islands (Melbourne University Press, 2017)

This work examines Australia's strategic influence in the Pacific Islands over the last 40 years and is based, in part, on interviews with key Australian decision-makers.

Reviewed in Security Challenges:

This research has been discussed in the media and cited in the Australian government's Foreign Policy White Paper Public Consultation Summary Report ( and the Defence White Paper Expert Panel Report ( It has also informed policy papers written for the Australian Strategic Policy Instiute ( and International Instiute of Strategic Studies (

I received the Australian Institute of International Affairs 2014-2015 Publication Support Grant to support this project. This grant is made to facilitate the publication of an original and high-quality book on a contemporary topic of major relevance to Australian foreign policy.

In preparation for this book, in February 2013 I co-convened a workshop at the ANU on the topic, 'The South Pacific: from 'arc of instability' to 'arc of opportunity'?', with Sinclair Dinnen ( and The workshop featured participants from across the Pacific and Australia and included the launch of a special issue of Security Challenges I guest edited on the topc 'Security in the Pacific Arc' (

How does the Pacific fit into the 'Indo-Pacific'? The changing geopolitics of the Pacific Islands

On 6 and 7 June 2019 I co-convened a workshop at the ANU on the topic 'How does the 'Pacific' fit into the 'Indo-Pacific'? The changing geopolitics of the Pacific Islands' with James Batley and Anthony Bergin. The workshop featured speakers from across the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.

Recordings are available on the event website:

A workshop report is available here:

A special issue of Security Challenges featuring papers from the workshop will be published in early 2020.

Pacific Parters? The operation and endurance of the Australia-New Zealand alliance in the Pacific Islands (ARC Discovery Project DP200101994, 2020-2023) 

With Anna Powles (Massey University) I am analysing how the Australia-New Zealand alliances operates, in particular, how the two states manage differing approaches and interests, and why it endures. We are answering these questions using in-depth analysis of the alliance in the Pacific Islands, the region in which it has primarily played out. 

Our initial policy paper, Australia and New Zealand in the Pacific Islands: Ambiguous Allies? is available at:

Asia-Pacific Security: an introduction (Georgetown University Press, 2016)

An edited book (with Andrew Carr)which provides an introduction to the security environment of the contemporary Asia-Pacific. This includes the key players, in-depth examination of the security challenges which occupy the headlines and some of the proposed solutions to improve the security of the region.   

Reviewed in The Round Table

Media appearances and blog posts include:

'China and the geopolitics of the Pacific Islands', The Strategist, 28 June 2019, 

'Australia's one step forward, two steps back in the Pacific', East Asia Forum, 21 June 2019,

'Competing Pacific narratives', East Asia Forum, 20 January 2019,

'Chinese whispers and Pacific agency' [with Anna Powles and Tess Newton Cain], The Interpreter, 22 October 2018,

'Australia steps up its Pacific pivot', East Asia Forum, 20 October 2018, 

'Australia at the Pacific Islands Forum: getting our priorities right', The Strategist, 6 September 2018,

'Chinese whispers and the geopolitics of the Pacific Islands' [with Anna Powles], AsiaGlobal Online, 6 September 2018,

'Australia needs to reset its Pacific policy', East Asia Forum, 1 June 2018, Republished on Open Forum, 5 June 2018,

'Is China changing the 'rules' in the Pacific Islands?', The Strategist, 11 April 2018, Republished as 'China makes its play for the Pacific', Open Forum, 12 April 2018,

'Australia's security', Big Ideas, ABC Radio National, 7 February 2018,

'What role can the Pacific Islands play in strengthening Australia's security?', Australian Outlook, 17 October 2017,

'Do Australia's interests match its influence in the Pacific Islands?', The Strategist, 27 September 2017, 

'Pacific Power', Between the Lines, ABC Radio National, 27 July 2017,

'Australia needs to view itself "more as a partner, less as a power" in the Pacific', Pacific Beat, ABC Radio Australia, 21 July 2017,,/8732260

'Australia's influence declining in the region', Pacific Beat, ABC Radio Australia, 19 July 2017,

'Crowded and complex: the changing geopolitics of the South Pacific', The Strategist, 24 April 2017,

'Hollow hegemon: Australia's declining influence in the Pacific', East Asia Forum, 21 September 2016, Republished on Open Forum, 15 April 2018,  

'Money, manipulation and misunderstanding on Manus Island', The Canberra Times, 5 July 2016,

'Australia's anxieties after the 'Age of Intervention', Policy Forum, 10 December 2015, 

'What role can constitution making play in state building?', fifteen eightyfour, 13 January 2015,

'Is Australia's influence over Papua New Guinea declining?', The Strategist, 20 October 2014,

'The dangers of development NGOs sacrificing accuracy for advocay', DevPolicy, 3 October 2014,

‘Australia’s changing strategic interests in the South Pacific’, China Policy Institute Blog, 5 February 2014,

'Widening gulf a peril for the two East Timors', Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times, 28 November 2013,

'Beware of berating Bougainvilleans', The Strategist, 20 November 2013,

‘The difficulties of development in Timor-Leste', DevPolicy Blog, 27 November 2013,

‘Use White Paper to build bridges over the South Pacific’, Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times, 8 May 2013

'Neighbourhood Watch', SBS News, 3 May 2013

'The Pacific: from 'arc of instability' to 'arc of opportunity?', The Strategist, 10 December 2012,

'The South Pacific: from 'arc of instability' to 'arc of opportunity'?, December 2012,

'The South Pacific: Microcosm of Future US-China competition?', e-IR, 19 September 2012 ,

'Q&Asia: Who Will Lead the Asian Century?', ABC TV, 3 September 2012,

'Asia Pacific Week: panel debate Q and Asia', ABC Radio National, 30 August 2012,

'The United States and China in the South Pacific and beyond'¸ East Asia Forum, 6 September 2012,

'The dragon in our backyard: the strategic consequences of China's increased presence in the South Pacific', The Strategist, 30 August 2012, 

'China's South Pacific Diplomacy', The Diplomat, 30 August 2012,

'Is Australia still threatened by weak South Pacific states?', The Strategist, 20 August 2012,

'Fault lines: democracy and unity in Timor-Leste' The DrumABC, 18 July 2012,


Available student projects

I welcome expressions of interest for PhD, Masters and Honours level research on topics relating to security and strategy in the Pacific Islands, as well as peacebuilding, state-building and nation-building in the Pacific Islands and more broadly.

Current student projects

Henrietta McNeill, PhD, SDSC, 'Exporting offenders, or creating criminal networks? Criminal deportees and their effect on transnational crime prevention and Pacific regional security'

Steven Blair, PhD, DPA, 'Does Papua New Guinea's constitutional and legal framework alone explain why there has been no successful military intervention in politics?'

Joanne is keen to consider applications by Honours, Masters or PhD students interested in research related to two broad topics:

  • Security in the Pacific Islands, including Australia’s foreign and strategic policy in the region, the challenges facing Pacific Island states, and the changing geopolitics of the region.
  • Peace and security, including humanitarian intervention, peacebuilding, and reconciliation and transitional justice.

Past student projects

Ruben Seaton, Hons, SDSC, 'Assumptions and Interests: Australia's policy in the Pacific Islands since 1987' - completed 2019

Dahlia Simangan, PhD, IR, 'The limits of liberal peacebuilding and the pitfalls of local involvement: Cambodia, Kosovo and Timor-Leste in retrospect' - completed 2017

Richard Filer, Hons, SSGM, 'The development of policing in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville: interactions between state and non-state institutions' - completed 2015

Jay Vlazlovski, Hons, SDSC, 'Transnational crime in the South Pacific: The Australian response' - completed 2015

Rachel Jones, MA, SDSC, 'The evolution of Australia’s maritime security priorities in the South Pacific since the Second World War' - completed 2014

Laura Ball, Hons, SDSC, 'In Need of A New Strategy?: The Australian Government’s Top-Down Approach to the Securitization of Development in the South Pacific' - completed 2014


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  10 July 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers