Samoa is among eight member country governments of The University of the South Pacific (U.S.P) who have signed the U.S.P Convention at its 84th Council meeting in Majuro, Republic of Marshall Islands last week.
The Convention is open for signature for the next 24 months for the remaining member countries.
The first signatory of the U.S.P Convention was the U.S.P Chancellor and Prime Minister of Cook Islands, Henry Puna
Samoa’s Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, signed for Samoa as well as Jean Pierre Nirua from Vanuatu; Alexander Teabo of Kiribati; Vodrick Detsiogo of Nauru; Penisimani ‘E. Fifita of Tonga; Wilbur Heine of Republic of Marshall Islands; and Fano Mativa of Tokelau.
Mr. Puna, while signing the U.S.P Convention said that the Convention was a very important document for U.S.P.
“It is a historic occasion that we are signing the U.S.P Convention and I am pleased to be signing it on behalf of my Government. U.S.P embodies all our hopes in preparing students for the future,” Mr. Puna said.
“What it achieves is the legal certainty in terms of U.S.P in all of its member countries and everything is on a solid footing. I think the charter is a wonderful document and I am glad that it has been signed in my term as the Chancellor.”
He thanked Council members, member Governments, Pro-Chancellor, and the Vice-Chancellor and President for the support given him during his tenure as the Chancellor.
The U.S.P Convention is an agreement between member countries of U.S.P which is aimed at legally embedding the University in member countries and supplementing the University’s founding legal instruments of the Royal Charter and Statutes.
Legal opinion on the Charter indicates that the Charter is sufficient for the operation of the University in its member countries.
Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council said the signing of the Convention will resolve ambiguities that have arisen regarding the legal status and operation of the University in each of the member countries.
Additionally, the Convention confirms the operation of the University in each member country.
According to Mr Thompson, the U.S.P Convention is being seen as a major possible legacy of the University’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.
The Convention does not grant any additional rights to the University in relation to operations in any member country jurisdiction.
Member countries will now have to locally enact the U.S.P Convention.
U.S.P was established under Royal Charter in 1970 and each member country is named in the Charter. Few universities are established under Royal Charter and this mode of incorporation is universally regarded as being prestigious and legal.
When the U.S.P Convention was being drafted in 2014 and 2015, consultation occurred between the Ministers of Education in the University Council meetings as well as representatives of the office of the Attorney General and Solicitor General at two workshops in November 2016 and March 2017.
The next process will be for the Convention to be formally ratified by all member countries as part of U.S.P’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2018.