School of Arts and Humanities
When Australia reneged on a AUD$90 billion submarine contract with France in 2021 as it joined AUKUS, a new trilateral military partnership between Australia, the UK and the US, it was accused of lying and breaching France's trust. This perceived act of betrayal not only led to a deterioration in the diplomatic relationship between Australia and France, but it also drew attention to the consequences of violating the norm of pacta sunt servanda—agreements must be kept. Although it is recognized that breaches of trust undermine relationships, what has been underexplored is how a violation of norms can also undermine the presumption of trust in international society more broadly. Focusing on how Australia broke its contract with France after it joined AUKUS, this article argues that Australia's conduct not only harmed its relationship with France, but it also led the European Union (EU) to raise questions about how much to trust AUKUS partners as it engages in the Indo-Pacific region. It posits that adherence to international norms is important for developing trust between states in international society and has the potential to facilitate cooperation and enhance security in the complex Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
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Barnes, J., & Makinda, S. M. (2022). Testing the limits of international society? Trust, AUKUS and Indo-Pacific security. International Affairs, 98(4), 1307-1325. https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iiac111