BUILDING a strong Pacific through enhanced regional security and amplified international engagement and advocacy will be at the centre of discussions when the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers meet today in Samoa.
When Forum Foreign Ministers met in 2017 they recommended Forum Leaders initiate consultations to develop a new regional security declaration as a foundation for future regional responses. Twelve months on, and those consultations have delivered a draft declaration that Ministers will discuss before sending on to Forum Leaders for their consideration at the 49th Pacific Island Forum Meeting in Nauru in September.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat said, “The draft declaration reflects the region’s need for collective security arrangements during a period of rapid and dynamic change in the international arena. It recognises the importance of an expanded concept of security inclusive of human security, humanitarian assistance, environmental security cyber security, and regional cooperation in building resilience to disasters and climate change.”
The value/power of a united Pacific voice for international diplomacy and at significant global and regional events was highlighted by Foreign Ministers in 2017. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat established a sub-committee of the Forum Officials Committee to strengthen existing strategies for ensuring the region’s perspectives are heard. The proposed Pacific Islands Forum International Engagement and Advocacy Strategy will be looked at by Foreign Ministers today.
“We have a big story to tell when our region thinks collectively, and we act as one ‘blue continent’, a single strategic space.” said Dame Meg. “When we speak with one voice on important issues like climate change, ocean conservation, and fisheries, we speak from a position of strength. You could call it Blue Pacific Diplomacy.”
Foreign Ministers will also assess an application from Wallis and Futuna to become an Associate Member of the Pacific Islands Forum.
This is the third standing meeting of the Forum Foreign Ministers and Its purpose is to provide a platform for discussion and strategizing on regional and international issues facing the Pacific region.