AfREC Advisory Board Member pens new piece arguing for resetting Australia-Africa engagement by the


AfREC Advisory Board Member Lisa Sharland, Head of International Programs at the Canberra-based Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), has made an important contribution on Australia-Africa relations to a major new ASPI report entitled Agenda for Change 2019: Strategic Choices for the Next Government, which has been produced in the lead up to the 2019 Federal election to inform and influence strategic policy debates.


Ms Sharland’s essay, Beyond the Indo-Pacific: Resetting our Engagement with the Countries of Africa, builds on the important work that Ms Sharland and other ASPI analysis have done over a number of years to highlight the growing strategic importance of Africa to Australia. Her essay is reproduced below and the full report can be downloaded via the link above.


Lisa Sharland is the Head of the International Program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in Canberra, Australia and a Fellow in the Protecting Civilians in Conflict Program at the Stimson Center in Washington, DC. Lisa is also a member of the Advisory Group on Australia Africa Relations, which is tasked by the Foreign Minister with informing Australia’s thinking and policies on Africa. Lisa’s research focuses broadly on UN peacekeeping reform, Australia’s engagement in UN peacekeeping, Australia Africa engagement and women, peace and security. She has undertaken field research in Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. She is the author of many publications on range of defence and international security issues, including papers on role of the mining sector in preventing and countering violent extremism in Africa and the protection of civilians in peacekeeping. She has also facilitated the design and delivery of the ASPI Australia-Africa dialogue. Prior to joining ASPI, Lisa spent several years working for the Australian Government as the Defence Policy Adviser at the Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations in New York, where she represented Australia in multilateral negotiations in the UN Security Council and General Assembly bodies. Lisa holds a Master of International Studies from the University of Sydney, as well as a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Macquarie University, Australia.

Beyond the Indo-Pacific: resetting our engagement with the countries of Africa

Lisa Sharland

In Marcus Hellyer (ed.), Agenda for Change 2019: Strategic Choices for the Next Government, pp. 28-20. Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Canberra, February 2019. Available: https://www.aspi.org.au/report/agenda-change-2019


The Australian and African continents border the Indian Ocean. Australia is a member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association along with several African countries, including Kenya, South Africa, Mauritius and Tanzania. Yet, the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper excludes the African continent from its definition of the ‘Indo-Pacific’, which starts at the ‘Eastern Indian Ocean’. In fairness, the line had to be drawn somewhere. Australia’s resources aren’t infinite and we have to prioritise. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the diverse interests that we have on the African continent, particularly when they’re directly engaged.