Foreign policy and defense
Nauru has a close partnership with Australia,
which oversees the country's defense and foreign policy
interests as well as being the largest aid donor and
most important trading partner. In exchange for
financial compensation, Nauru houses a detention camp
for migrants who were stopped offshore when trying to
make their way to Australia.
A first Australian detention camp was on the island
in 2001-2008. The camp was initially set up for about
300 refugees, mostly Afghans, who had been rescued from
a sinking boat as they tried to make their way to
Australia. Nauru then pledged to host up to 1,500 asylum
seekers on behalf of Australia at any time. However, the
procedure drew criticism and from 2005 only a handful of
interns were held in the camp. At the beginning of 2008,
it was completely shut down by the then newly elected
Social Democratic Government in Australia. For Naurus,
this meant that about 100 people lost their jobs.
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Nauru for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
In September 2012, the camp was reopened after a new
similar agreement was signed with Australia. In November
of that year, as many as 300 of the then 370 refugees
(mainly from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan) hunger strikes
in protest against poor living conditions and extended
asylum processes. The UN Commissioner for Human Rights,
Navi Pillay, called the hunger strike an expression of
the "unbearable living conditions" prevailing in the
Nauru camp. The human rights organization Amnesty
International also described the situation of the
refugees in the camp as "cruel and humiliating".
In July 2013, riots broke out in the camp (see
Current policy). In March 2015, an independent
investigation, published by the Australian Government,
was published in which evidence was presented that
physical and sexual abuse was committed against the
refugees. In August, the Australian Senate advised the
government not to allow children to stay in Nauru camp.
In August 2016, the British newspaper The Guardian
reported continued abuse of women and children. The
information had been leaked to the newspaper from people
inside the camp and consisted of around 2,000 reports of
abuse and more. The UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights also appealed to Nauru and Australia not to allow
children to stay in the camp.
In September 2014, Australia signed an agreement with
Cambodia, which promised assistance to grant permanent
residence permits to refugees who agreed to move from
Nauru. Only seven refugees agreed to move to Cambodia
before the agreement expired. Four of them later chose
to return to their home countries.
In November 2016, Australia and the United States
signed an agreement which meant that up to 1,500 asylum
seekers in the Australian camps in Nauru and Papua New
Guinea would be granted a residence permit in the United
States. By February 2019, 342 refugees in Nauru,
including 37 children, had moved to the United States.
Around 400 refugees remained on the island. Among them
were no children.
In October 2017, Doctors Without Borders was ordered
to leave Nauru, after the relief organization reported
how the living conditions of the interns had
deteriorated sharply. Doctors Without Borders compared
the mental status of the refugees with a mental
condition that torture victims often exhibit. The
organization estimated that around a third of the
refugees, including children, had attempted suicide.
Nauru also has close links with other countries in
the region, mainly New Zealand, Fiji and Japan.
From 2014, Nauru has been criticized internationally,
mainly from the UN, EU, US and New Zealand, for the
government trying to influence the country's judiciary
and stop the media from reviewing government policy. In
September 2015, New Zealand withdrew its assistance to
the Naurus judiciary on the grounds that it had been
used to shut down opposition MPs and to introduce laws
that restrict fundamental freedoms and rights,
especially the media freedom.
Like many other small island states in the Pacific,
Nauru maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
However, between 2002 and 2005, the island had relations
with China instead. The exchange back and forth can be
seen as a way to try to exploit the "dollar diplomacy"
that Taiwan and China are engaged in in the region.
For similar reasons, in December 2009, Nauru
acknowledged the Georgian breakaway republics of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in exchange for Russian aid
for port facility maintenance.
Since 1999, Nauru has been a member of the
Commonwealth and the UN. Between 2006 and 2011, the
country was partially suspended from the Commonwealth
due to unpaid debts (see Economic overview). Nauru is
also a member of the Pacific Community, the Pacific
Islands Forum and the Asian Development Bank. In 2016,
Nauru also became a member of the International Monetary
Within the UN, Nauru has primarily worked to raise
awareness of the effects of climate change and rising
sea levels on small island states such as Nauru.
Nauru has no own armed forces. Australia manages the