Accession Number:



Reassessing the Security Treaty Between Australia, New Zealand, and the United States (ANZUS): Post-Cold War Security Relations

Descriptive Note:

Research paper

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



The central argument of this paper is that the decline of ANZUS as a strategic partnership has contributed to an erosion of New Zealand Defence Force capabilities and has left a security void in the South Pacific. ANZUS is now redundant and should be replaced. There is a greater Australian, New Zealand and United States focus on the Pacific Rim than ever before. The circumstances indicate that there is an overlap of national interests that do not equate to the current security standoff between New Zealand and the United States. Given the changing regional and global conditions in the post-cold war era, it appears that the Australia-New Zealand-United States alliance is in jeopardy of becoming irrelevant. From its inception ANZUS produced different perceptions of its meaning and intent in the minds of Australians, New Zealanders, and Americans. As a treaty it was a cornerstone to the security of Australia and New Zealand, but it was of low significance amongst the security priorities of the United States. Differences in perceptions regarding purpose and obligations were realized with the Australian and New Zealand commitments to the United States cause in Vietnam, and then the 1985 nuclear policy standoff between New Zealand and the United States. The security strategy of the United States and the domestic anti-nuclear legislation and sentiment of New Zealand continue to oppose each other diametrically. It is in the national interests of Australia, New Zealand, and the United States for the framework of ANZUS to be adjusted against a vastly different backdrop compared to that of the treaty signing. New Zealand has the most to gain and the least to lose from such an adjustment. It is therefore New Zealand who must voice the overtures for a life after ANZUS. Abrogating the ANZUS alliance is long overdue, with the most appropriate replacement option being a series of three bilateral agreements between the ANZUS partners.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

Distribution Statement: