Forum Leaders communique short of domestic violence

Lance Polu

, Politics

6 August 2010: PORT VILA: The Forum Leaders have come under fire for the shortage of commitment to addressing domestic violence and violenece against women in its decisions made in this years summit that has just ended in Vanuatu. This follows the killing of a ni-Vanuatu woman by her husband and her body burnt on the same week the Leaders came out with the following communique.

The Communiqué of the 41st Pacific Islands Forum held in Port Vila, Republic of Vanuatu this week reflects the concerns of Forum Leaders to address the major challenges facing nations in the region.

Addressing the Post-Forum Dialogue Partners meeting in Port Vila today, the new Chair of the Forum and Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Hon. Edward Natapei, MP said: “Through the Pacific Islands Forum, we do so collectively, gathering strength from our unity and drawing the common purpose of our joint Leaders’ Vision Statement and the key pillars of the Pacific Plan.”

Mr Natapei outlined the decisions on the major issues discussed at the Leaders’ Retreat held at the Havannah Resort outside of Port Vila yesterday.

In terms of major issues, Leaders welcomed and endorsed the Port Vila Declaration on Accelerating Progress on the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. This is a landmark step which will provide a basis for Pacific nations to speak with a unified voice at the United Nations later this year on accelerating the regions in addressing the Millennium Development Goals.

To this end, Vanuatu has discussed with Leaders the outcomes of a range of major international conferences held in Port Vila this year, including conferences on food security, the Pacific High Level Dialogue on the Five Year Review of the Mauritius Strategy of the further Implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action and the Pacific Conference on the Human Face of the Global Economic Crisis.

The Communiqué also highlighted that climate change remains the greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific. It stressed that the degree of urgency for real commitments to emissions reduction must be commensurate with the science and associated impacts of Climate Change on the most vulnerable communities. It called for a meaningful legally binding agreement on emissions reduction to be reached urgently.

In anticipation of significantly increased flows of resources to come to the region as a result of the commitments made at COP 15, an emphasis has been placed on the need for strengthened country-led systems for the coordination of these resources with, where appropriate, support from their regional organisations and development partners. The Leaders adopted a set of principles to promote more effective coordination and implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation actions

Leaders acknowledged with appreciation the 6.8 billion yen (USD66 million) Pacific Environment Community Fund (PEC Fund) provided to the Forum Island Countries by the Government of Japan, under the PALM 5 outcomes for solar power generation and sea water desalination projects in the region.

Leaders commended the efforts of the Forum Secretariat in implementing the Cairns Compact noting this activity had been effective in providing a baseline on efforts to strengthen development coordination in the region. Leaders reaffirmed the urgent and ongoing need for the effective and coordinated implementation of policy measures and practical responses aimed at supporting Pacific island countries’ development efforts in alleviating adverse effects of the global financial and economic crises, with the objective of building sustained economic resilience in the Pacific. Leaders also reaffirmed the Pacific Plan priorities for 2010-2013 as adopted at last year’s Forum meeting.

Leaders noted that fisheries resources of the Pacific represent a major source of food and income for Pacific Islands Countries (PICs) and for many Pacific people is the main prospect for sustainable economic development. Leaders welcomed a presentation from the Directors-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and Forum Fisheries Agency of the summary report of “The future of Pacific Island fisheries” and reaffirmed the importance of managing this resource sustainably and responsibly to the optimum benefit of the peoples of the Pacific.

Leaders reaffirmed their strong support for the Pacific Regional Strategy on Disability endorsed at the Forum Disability Ministers: to support Pacific Island Forum member countries to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities; to provide a framework for the coordination of development partners, governments and civil society in building a disability inclusive Pacific; and strengthen commitment of all stakeholders towards implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other human rights instruments relating to disability.

Leaders welcomed progress made on PACER Plus negotiations. Leaders also endorsed the Framework for Action on Energy Security in the Pacific and noted ongoing developments on labour mobility in the region.

Leaders noted the report of the Chair of the Ministerial Contact Group (MCG) on Fiji and commended the continuing efforts to encourage and support Fiji’s early return to parliamentary democracy. Leaders also expressed their continuing deep concern at the serious political and economic challenges facing Fiji and reiterated the clear commitment from all Forum members to continue to offer Fiji their assistance to encourage full restoration of parliamentary democracy.

Leaders highly commended the strong leadership and commitment of the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI in working together to ensure lasting benefits for the people of Solomon Islands. Leaders welcomed the successful transition of assistance formerly provided under the PRAN to other forms of bilateral, regional and multilateral support to Nauru following their decision in Cairns in 2009, at Nauru’s request, to bring the PRAN activity to an end.

Leaders recognised that transnational crime remains a threat to national and regional stability and requires effective national law enforcement agencies, continuing regional cooperation and pledged high level political commitment to combat this threat. Leaders reaffirmed that the availability and proliferation of Small Arms Light Weapons (SALW) remained a serious threat to peace and stability in the Pacific region. Leaders commended actions in the region, particularly by national governments, to take forward their direction at Cairns in 2009 to address sexual and gender based violence.

Leaders noted with appreciation the interest expressed by the President of the Government of New Caledonia in eventual full membership of the Forum and .requested the Forum Secretariat to explore further with New Caledonia ways in which its engagement and role within the Forum could be expanded and enhanced.

Lastly, Leaders welcomed the offer by the Government of New Zealand to host the 2011 Forum from 6 – 9 September 2011 which will also mark the 40th anniversary of the Pacific Islands Forum.
The 41st Pacific Islands Forum, which also included a meeting of the SIS Leaders and Pacific ACP Leaders ends today with the dialogue with the Post Forum Dialogue Partners and the Taiwan/Republic of China Forum Allies dialogue.