Strengthening the Pacific region’s capacity to deal with new and emerging security threats is critical.
This statement was echoed by the Pacific Island’s Forum Secretariat Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor, during the Forum Officials’ Committee (F.O.C.) meeting at the Taumeasina Island Resort yesterday.
Dame Meg said for the past year, the Secretariat has been working to address key strategic areas that are of high importance to the Forum member countries.
“The review of the Forum’s security architecture is one of these issues,” Dame Meg said.
“At last year’s Forum, leaders tasked the Forum Secretariat to initiate consultations on developing a comprehensive ‘Biketawa Plus’ declaration, which expands and strengthens our region’s capacity for collective action in the face of new and emerging security threats.”
“We have since embarked on an extensive course of consultation, meeting with a wide range of stakeholders across the region.
“These consultations have informed a draft declaration, which proposes a high-level articulation of the Forum’s concerns about the current security environment, and the Forum’s commitment to and expectations of regional security cooperation.”
Dame Meg said the F.O.C. and the meeting of the Forum Foreign Ministers, to be held on Friday, provides an important opportunity to review the draft declaration before it is submitted to the Forum leaders for consideration.
She added the Secretariat’s work is also centred on strengthening the Forum’s engagement and advocacy on the policy priorities agreed by leaders.
“You’ll recall that this was an issue highlighted by Forum Foreign Ministers last year, with Ministers tasking the Forum Secretariat to coordinate a F.O.C. sub-committee of members to develop a rolling strategy for international engagement and advocacy.
“This year we have worked closely with members to establish the sub-committee and to prepare a draft strategy for the Forum’s engagement and advocacy in 2018-19.
“This committee will be asked to review the draft strategy in advance of discussion on it at the Forum Foreign Ministers on Friday.”
Dame Meg also noted the importance of promoting strong and constructive coordination and cooperation between Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (C.R.O.P.) has also been a significant priority for the Secretariat in the past year.
“We have made good progress with a number of institutional reforms, including the finalisation of the Review of the CROP Charter. This has now been endorsed by C.R.O.P. members governing bodies, and is ready to be presented to Forum Leaders in Nauru,” she said.
“And I would like to highlight a practical example of excellent cooperation and collaboration from C.R.O.P. agencies in supporting members in the negotiations for Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (P.A.L.M. 8).
“To my mind, that really represented the power and potential of C.R.O.P. bringing its diverse knowledge and expertise to support member countries in prosecuting the region’s priorities with a key partner.
“The upcoming COP 24 provides another opportunity for us to bring the whole of C.R.O.P. support to members in progressing our region’s climate change priorities.”
The F.O.C. meeting concludes today.