FSM Attends 31st Pacific Islands Forum
POHNPEI, Palikir (FSM Information Service): November 2000 - President Falcam and his delegation returned to Pohnpei Monday from attending the 31st Pacific Islands Forum which was held in Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati, from October 27-30, 2000.
Chaired by Kiribati President, H.E. Teburoro Tito, the 31st Pacific Islands Forum, formerly the South Pacific Forum, gathered leaders and heads of states from the 16-members: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, to discuss key issues affecting the Pacific region and establish guiding principles for these issues.
Prior to the forum, was the meeting of the Forum Officials Committee in which the Committee tabled issues relating to the development of the forum region and identified key issues for priority consideration by the Leaders.
In wake of recent civil unrest in the Pacific, the Leaders discussed issues of regional security whereby establishing the "Biketawa Declaration" to provide the mechanisms and principles to respond to socio-economic and ethno-political tensions in the forum region.
The Leaders voiced their support of a "whole-of-government" approach to regional economy agreeing to the "designs and implementation of economic reform to improve the members' environment for economic stability".
Issues of Fisheries lead the economic topics with the leaders embracing the outcome of this year's Multilateral High Level Conference (MHLC) negotiations in Hawaii which established a "legally binding conservation and management regime to ensure the maintenance of sustainable fishery" to enhance the economic security of those whose economies are highly dependent on this resource. The Leaders urged all fishing nations to implement within the next 12 months, the Forum Fisheries Agency Vessel Monitoring System (FFA VMS).
Also addressed under the same heading, were areas in infrastructure, technology, transport and trade, which are likely to have collateral impact on the forum members. To strengthen trading links in the region, the Forum Leaders unanimously accepted the offer by the People's Republic of China to establish a Trade Office in Beijing by mid-2001.
The Forum also welcomed Japan's offer to establish a US $20 million "good will" trust fund to aid in development projects for the Forum islands.
Climate variability and sea-level rise continue to dominate the environmental discussions. The Leaders recognize the mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol to pilot "effective global action to combat climate change".
Considering the continuing concerns over shipments of radioactive materials and MOX fuel, the Leaders called for a "high-level commitment" from the nuclear industry representatives from the shipping countries of France, Japan and the United Kingdom, to establish a timetable to further explore "intermediate innovative arrangements" to placate the region's growing concerns.
The Leaders urged all countries to afford all efforts to resolve any remaining issues at the COP6 in the Netherlands and encouraged Forum members to contribute to negotiation developments.
Forum leaders also noted recommendations by the SPREP Ministers meeting which requested full support for a South Pacific Whaling Sanctuary proposal.
Other items of discussion under the environmental issues include Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which the Leaders urged Forum members to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty CTBT, and encouraged the monitoring station participants to expedite completions of their stations.
Since Fiji was alphabetically scheduled as next host, the venue matter was heavily debated between Fiji and Niue who offered to host the Forum 2001. The matter was entasked to the Forum Chairman to iron out with the Forum members.
President Falcam expressed FSM's support of Fiji by saying that "Fiji has always been like a big brother to the pacific island nations [...] and in this forum village we should not abandon our brethren at this critical juncture, we must extend our support, that's the Pacific Way".
The Post Forum Dialogue followed immediately after the Forum, providing the highest level forum for multilateral consultations with all major partners to the region.
The Leaders adopted a new Agreement renaming the South Pacific Forum to Pacific Islands Forum whereby recognizing the establishment of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
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