Vice President Killion joins Auckland retreat
Palikir, POHNPEI (FSM Information Services): April 16, 2004 - Vice President Redley Killion and other Pacific leaders met in Auckland to review and consider a report by the Forum's Eminent Person's Group (EPG).
Entitled, "Charting the New Pacific Voyage," the EPG report recommended greater regional co-operation and integration, the sharing of resources of governance and an enhanced role for the Pacific Islands Forum secretariat.
During last year's Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland, the leaders called for a "refreshed mandate and vision [...] that would allow the Forum to provide leadership on regional cooperation and integration, and closely reflect the aspirations and needs of Forum members".
The mandate was assigned to an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) chaired by Sir Julius Chan from Papua New Guinea and included, Bob Cotton of Australia, Dr. Langi Kavaliku of Tonga, Teburoro Tito of Kiribati and Maiava Iulai Toma from Samoa.
The EPG had conducted wide-ranging and close consultations with individuals and officials from the Forum Governments, private sector, academia, regional institutions and civil society. The consultations resulted the "Charting the New Pacific Voyage" report.
The report was presented to the Special Leaders Retreat in Auckland on April 6, for initial discussion among Forum Leaders before it is presented at the Apia Forum in August 2004.
During the Special Leaders Retreat in Auckland, Forum Leaders engaged in close and informal exchange of views on the thirty-two recommendations contained in the EPG report, pertaining to the Pacific Vision and the Pacific Plan, among others.
Affirming their collective support, the Forum Leaders endorsed the report and its findings aimed at revitalizing the Forum along with its processes to make it more relevant and responsive to needs and aspirations of the Pacific people.
Entitled "The Auckland Declaration", it recalls the important an pivotal decision made by Forum Leaders in the Auckland Forum to have the Eminent Persons Group review the Forum and its Secretariat for a New Pacific mandate and vision as well as improved Forum capacity and leadership in addressing regional cooperation and integration, especially in light of the challenges imposed by globalization and modernization affecting Pacific cultures, identities and endowments.
The Declaration also conveyed the Leaders' collective adoption of the Pacific Vision which stated a belief in a region of peace, harmony, security and economic prosperity as well as the need to make a Pacific region respected in the years ahead based on its commitment to its cultural values and identities, its observance of democratic values and human rights, the quality of its governance and the sustainable development of its resources.
To give effect to this Vision, Leaders agreed to develop a Pacific Plan which would provide the overarching strategy for implementation to "create a stronger and deeper links between the sovereign countries of the region and identify the sectors where the region could gain the most from sharing resources of good governance and aligning policies".
Leaders agreed to include in the Plan the key goals of the Forum as economic growth, sustainable development, good governance and security. These should form the principal focus on the Forum Secretariat. In addition, Leaders agreed to reflect in the Plan their recognition that "a fundamental role of the Forum is to support the particular needs of Small Islands States" and to advocate their interests relating to their extreme vulnerabilities.
They also agreed to recognize in the Plan the Forum's primary existence for the practical benefit of Pacific people in terms of their cultural identity, human rights, regional inclusiveness an sub-regional representation. The Plan also reflected Leaders agreement to improve the way the Forum communicates its work to member countries and the wider world as well as reform of the Forum's procedures, its meetings, and the role of Leaders, the Chair, Ministers and officials.
Leaders also recognized the substantial work needed to progress the Pacific Vision and agreed to the need for periodic reviewing of the Vision to assess achievement.
The one-day Special Leaders Retreat adjourned with tremendous sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in terms of the steps heretofore taken to fulfill their mandate.
Assistant Secretary Kahdhi A. Eieisar from the Department of Foreign Affairs accompanied Vice President Killion.
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