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Pacific Islands Forum

Pacific Islands Forum

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The Pacific Islands Forum is an inter-governmental
Intergovernmentalism
-A theory of regional integration:The theory is not applied on European integration which rejects the idea of neofunctionalism. The theory, initially proposed by Stanley Hoffmann suggests that national governments control the level and speed of European integration. Any increase in power at...

 organization
Organization
An organization is a social group which distributes tasks for a collective goal. The word itself is derived from the Greek word organon, itself derived from the better-known word ergon - as we know `organ` - and it means a compartment for a particular job.There are a variety of legal types of...

 that aims to enhance cooperation between the independent countries
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

 of the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. It was founded in 1971 as the South Pacific Forum. In 1999, the name was changed; Pacific Islands Forum is more inclusive of the Forum's Oceania
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

-spanning membership of both north and south Pacific island countries and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. It is an official observer at the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

.

The mission of Pacific Islands Forum is “to work in support of Forum member governments, to enhance the economic and social well-being of the people of the South Pacific by fostering cooperation between governments and between international agencies, and by representing the interests of Forum members in ways agreed by the Forum”. Its decisions are implemented by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), which grew out of the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation (SPEC). As well as its role in harmonising regional positions on various political and policy issues, the Forum Secretariat has technical programmes in economic development, transport and trade. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General is the permanent Chairman of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific
Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific
The Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific is an inter-organisational consultative process which aims to prevent either overlaps, or gaps, appearing between the work-programmes of its various members....

 (CROP).

Australia and New Zealand are generally larger and wealthier than the other countries that make up the rest of the forum, Australia's population is around twice that of the other 15 members combined and its economy is more than five times larger. They are significant aid donors and big markets for exports from the other countries. Military and police forces as well as civilian personnel of Forum states, chiefly Australia and New Zealand, have recently been part of regional peacekeeping and stabilization operations in other states, notably Solomon Islands (2003-), Nauru (2004–2009), and Tonga (2006). Such regional efforts are mandated by the Biketawa Declaration
Biketawa Declaration
The Biketawa Declaration is a declaration agreed to by all the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum constituting a framework for coordinating response to regional crises. The declaration was agreed to at the 31st Summit of Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, held at Kiribati in October 2000 in the...

, which was adopted at the 31st Summit of Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, held at Kiribati in October 2000.

In September 2011, the U.S. territories of American Samoa
American Samoa
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa...

, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

 and the Northern Mariana Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands , is a commonwealth in political union with the United States, occupying a strategic region of the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of 15 islands about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines...

 were granted observer status in the Pacific Islands Forum.

History


From 5 to 7 August 1971, the first meeting of the South Pacific Forum was initiated by New Zealand and held in Wellington
Wellington
Wellington is the capital city and third most populous urban area of New Zealand, although it is likely to have surpassed Christchurch due to the exodus following the Canterbury Earthquake. It is at the southwestern tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range...

, with attendants of seven countries including the President of Nauru
President of Nauru
The President of Nauru is elected by Parliament from amongst its members. He is both the head of state and head of government of Nauru. Nauru's unicameral Parliament has 18 members, with an electoral term of 3 years. Political parties only play a minor role in Nauru politics, and there has often...

, the Prime Ministers of Western Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, the Premier of the Cook Islands, the Australian Minister for External Territories, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand. It was a private and informal discussion of a wide range of issues of common concern, concentrating on matters directly affecting the daily lives of the people of the islands of the South Pacific, devoting particular attention to trade, shipping, tourism, and education. Afterwards this meeting was held annually in member countries and areas in turn. In 1999, the 30th South Pacific Forum decided to transform into Pacific Islands Forum, with more extensive and formal way of discussion and organization. Immediately after the forum’s annual meeting at head of government level, the Post Forum Dialogue (PFD) is conducted at ministerial level with PFD development partners around the world.

Suspension of Fiji


In August 2008, the Forum threatened to suspend Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

 if the latter did not commit to holding a general election by March 2009
Fijian general election, 2009
General elections were, until recently, scheduled to be held in Fiji in March 2009. They are now expected to be held by September 2014.-Context: Scheduling a return to democracy:...

. Subsequently, at a special leaders' meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum, held in Papua-New Guinea in January 2009, Forum leaders set a deadline of 1 May, by which date Fiji must set a date for elections before the end of the year. Fiji rejected the deadline. Consequently, on May 2, Fiji was suspended indefinitely from participation in the Forum with immediate effect. Toke Talagi
Toke Talagi
Toke Tufukia Talagi is the current premier of Niue. He was elected premier by the Niue Assembly on 19 June 2008, defeating the standing premier Young Vivian by fourteen votes to five, with one abstaining....

, the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Premier
Premier of Niue
The Premier of Niue is Niue's head of government. He or she is elected by the Niue Assembly, and forms a Cabinet consisting of him- or herself and three other members of the Assembly....

 of Niue
Niue
Niue , is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is commonly known as the "Rock of Polynesia", and inhabitants of the island call it "the Rock" for short. Niue is northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga to the southwest, the Samoas to the northwest, and the Cook Islands to...

, described the suspension as "also particularly timely given the recent disturbing deterioration of the political, legal and human rights situation in Fiji since April 10, 2009". He described Fiji as “a regime which displays such a total disregard for basic human rights, democracy and freedom” which he believed contravened membership of the Pacific Islands Forum. Talagi emphasised, however, that Fiji had not been expelled and that it would be welcomed back into the fold when it returned to the path of "constitutional democracy, through free and fair elections".

The 2009 suspension of Fiji marked the first time that a country had been suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum in the history of the then 38-year-old organization.

Membership


Member states
(AU) (KI) (PW) (SB)
(CK) (NR) (PG) (TO)
(FM) (NZ) (MH) (TV)
(NU) (WS) (VU)
Suspended members
(FJ) (suspended since May 2, 2009)
Associate members Observers
(NC) (PF) (TK) (TL)
 Wallis and Futuna (WF) (GU)
Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 
Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank
The Asian Development Bank is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia...

 
WCPFC
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission is a treaty-based organisation. It was established to conserve and manage tuna and other highly migratory fish stocks across the western and central areas of the Pacific Ocean and commenced operations in late 2005...

 
(AS) (MP)
For abbreviations, see ISO 3166-1
ISO 3166-1
ISO 3166-1 is part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization , and defines codes for the names of countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest. The official name of the standard is Codes for the representation of names...

.


Dialogue partners
(CN)
(ID)
(MY) (PH)
(US)



The Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 has asked to be recognised as an official dialogue partner of the Forum. That status is currently awarded to the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

. The two governments compete for diplomatic recognition
Sino-Pacific relations
Oceania is, to the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China , a stage for continuous diplomatic competition. The One China Policy dictates that no state can diplomatically recognize the sovereignty of both the PRC and the ROC. As of 2009, eight states in Oceania recognise the PRC, and...

 in the Pacific.

Secretaries General


The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is appointed to a three-year term by the leaders of the member states. The Secretary General reports directly to the national leaders and the Forum Officials' Committee (FOC). The Secretary General also automatically serves as the permanent chairman of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific
Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific
The Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific is an inter-organisational consultative process which aims to prevent either overlaps, or gaps, appearing between the work-programmes of its various members....

 (CROP).
  • Tuiloma Neroni Slade
    Tuiloma Neroni Slade
    Tuiloma Neroni Slade is the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. He was elected to the position for three years on 20 August 2008. Slade was reappointed to a second term by the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum on 8 September 2011.-Biography:Tuiloma Neroni Slade was born...

     (Samoa) 13 October 2008 -
  • Feleti Teo
    Feleti Teo
    Feleti Penitala Teo , also spelled Feleti Te'o, is a Tuvaluan former Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum.-Education:...

     (Tuvalu) (acting) 2 May 2008 - 13 October 2008
  • Greg Urwin
    Greg Urwin
    Gregory Lawrence Urwin PSM CSI was an Australian career diplomat and top Pacific specialist. Urwin held the post of Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, an important inter-governmental regional organisation from 2004 until 2 May 2008. Urwin had been the longest serving Australian...

     (Australia) 16 May 2004 – 2 May 2008 (resigned)
  • Noel Levi (Papua New Guinea) February 1998 – 16 May 2004
  • Ieremia Tabai
    Ieremia Tabai
    Sir Ieremia Tienang Tabai GCMG AO was the first President of Kiribati. He had been described as being the most able leader of the Pacific island states....

     (Kiribati) January 1992 – January 1998
  • Henry Naisali (Tuvalu) September 1988 – January 1992


Directors of the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation
  • Henry Naisali (Tuvalu) January 1986 – September 1988
  • Mahe Tupouniua (Tonga) January 1983 – January 1986
  • John Sheppard (Australia) (acting) 1982 – January 1983
  • Gabriel Gris (Papua New Guinea) 1980–1982 (died in office)
  • Mahe Tupouniua (Tonga) November 1972–1980

Institutions and legal framework



The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat was established initially as a trade bureau in 1972 and later became the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation (SPEC). The name South Pacific Forum Secretariat was approved by member governments in 1988 and changed to Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in 2000.

There are four divisions in the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and each of these divisions has direct responsibility for a range of programs designed to improve the capacity of the Forum member countries and to co-ordinate action on matters of common interest:
  1. Development and Economic Policy
  2. Trade and Investment
  3. Political, International and Legal Affairs
  4. Corporate Services

Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement


The Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) aims to establish a free-trade area between fourteen of the Pacific Islands Forum countries. As of November 2006, it had been signed by twelve countries (not signed by Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...

 or Palau
Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

 per PICTA status report): Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu. As of March 2008, six countries had announced that domestic arrangements had been made enabling them to trade under the agreement: Cook Islands
Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand...

, Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

, Niue
Niue
Niue , is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is commonly known as the "Rock of Polynesia", and inhabitants of the island call it "the Rock" for short. Niue is northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga to the southwest, the Samoas to the northwest, and the Cook Islands to...

, Samoa
Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

, Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

, Vanuatu
Vanuatu
Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu , is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was...

.

After entry into force, countries commit to remove tariffs on most goods by 2021. As of April 2008, The Forum Island Countries are also negotiating an Economic Partnership Agreement
Economic Partnership Agreement
An economic partnership agreement is an economic arrangement that eliminates barriers to the free movement of goods, services, and investment between countries. This agreement can be considered an intermediate step between free trade area and single market in the process of economic integration...

 (EPA) with the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

. It is important to note that the PICTA discussed here covers only trade of goods. As of April 2008, there is an ongoing negotiation to design and agree on a protocol to include trade in services and the temporary movement of natural persons (a broader concept than the GATS
General Agreement on Trade in Services
The General Agreement on Trade in Services is a treaty of the World Trade Organization that entered into force in January 1995 as a result of the Uruguay Round negotiations...

's Mode 4).

The Office of the Chief Trade Adviser
Office of the Chief Trade Adviser
The Office of the Chief Trade Adviser is being established to provide the Forum Island Countries with independent advice and support in the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand. The Office of the Chief Trade Adviser is based in Port...

 was established on 29 March 2010 to provide independent advice and support to the Pacific Forum Island Countries (FICs) in the PACER Plus trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.

Recent works


An “open skies” policy has been under work by a number of nations. The Pacific Islands Air Services Agreement or PIASA would allow member nations to have more access for their airlines to other member countries. To date there have been ten signatories, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, while only six have ratified the agreement. These six are Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

At the 19–20 August 2008 Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Niue, the leaders discussed Pacific Plan
Pacific Plan
The Pacific Plan, endorsed by Forum Leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Port Moresby in 2005, is a document designed to strengthen Pacific regional integration and cooperation. Its four key pillars are designed for development progress: economic growth, sustainable development, good...

 priorities including, “fisheries, energy, trade and economic integration, climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

 and transport, in addition to information and communication technology, health, education, and good governance.” Leaders also discussed the impacts of climate change
Effects of global warming
This article is about the effects of global warming and climate change. The effects, or impacts, of climate change may be physical, ecological, social or economic. Evidence of observed climate change includes the instrumental temperature record, rising sea levels, and decreased snow cover in the...

 and adopted the Niue Declaration on Climate Change. Restoration of democratic governance in Fiji was discussed as were consequences should the interim government fail to meet established deadlines. Regional assistance to the Solomon Islands and Nauru was discussed, followed by discussion of radioactive contamination in the Marshall Islands from US government tests. Regional institutional framework issues and WTO Doha round developments were discussed, followed by discussion of country-initiatives and the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility launched 19 August 2008 to provide up to A$ 200 million over four years to help improve infrastructure in Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The United Nations announced that it would partner with Samoa to develop an Inter-Agency Climate Change Centre to help Pacific island nations combat the impacts of climate change in the region.

Prospects


There has been a call from within both the Australian and New Zealand business communities to extend the CER (Closer Economic Relations
Closer Economic Relations
Closer Economic Relations is a free trade agreement between the governments of New Zealand and Australia. It is also known as the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement and sometimes shortened to...

) to other Pacific island nations, moving towards a single market and allowing the free movement of people and goods. A Pacific Union
Pacific Union
The Pacific Union is a proposed development of the Pacific Islands Forum, suggested in 2003 by a committee of the Australian Senate, into a political and economic intergovernmental community. The union, if formed, will have a common charter, institutions and currency...

 has been theorized as the next step of the forum.

See also

  • Secretariat of the Pacific Community
    Secretariat of the Pacific Community
    The Secretariat of the Pacific Community, or SPC , is a regional intergovernmental organisation whose membership includes both nations and territories...

  • Pacific Forum Line
    Pacific Forum Line
    Pacific Forum Line is a multi-government run shipping line, an example of regional co-operation among Pacific Forum nations. It was born from concern over the deterioration of traditional island tramp services due to containerisation...

     – a regional shipping company owned by 12 Pacific Islands Forum member countries
  • Pacific Union
    Pacific Union
    The Pacific Union is a proposed development of the Pacific Islands Forum, suggested in 2003 by a committee of the Australian Senate, into a political and economic intergovernmental community. The union, if formed, will have a common charter, institutions and currency...

  • Melanesian Spearhead Group
    Melanesian Spearhead Group
    The Melanesian Spearhead Group is an intergovernmental organization, composed of the four Melanesian states of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as well as the FLNKS of New Caledonia. It was founded as a political gathering in 1983...

  • Trade bloc
    Trade bloc
    A trade bloc is a type of intergovernmental agreement, often part of a regional intergovernmental organization, where regional barriers to trade, are reduced or eliminated among the participating states.-Description:...

  • Continental organizations

External links