Pacific Islands Forum

Kiribati withdraws from Pacific Islands Forum in blow to regional body

 The Pacific has become a site of intense geostrategic competition, as a result of increased interest from China, and Kiribati’s withdrawal will weaken the forum at a time when Pacific regionalism in the face of fierce geopolitical attention has never been more important.

 Taneti Maamau, the president of Kiribati, outlined his reasons for the decision in a letter to the PIF secretary general that was first reported by 1News New Zealand but which has been obtained independently by the Guardian.

Samoan PM raises concerns over nations' sudden interest in Pacific

The Samoa Observer reports Fiame Naomi Mata'afa was speaking after the visit to Samoa by China Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

She took exception to the region's bigger nations taking sudden interest in the Pacific after Solomon Islands signed a security agreement with China recently.

Fiame referred to AUKUS - a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the US, and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) group between Australia, India, Japan and the US, who do not seek the views of Pacific Island nations.

Puna set to go to heal Pacific rift

The five northern Pacific states, Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, vowed early last year to pull out of the organisation.

They were angry their nominee for secretary general, Marshall Islands diplomat Gerald Zackios, had been overlooked in favour of Cook Islands Prime Minister Puna.

The spokesman for the FSM government said the Micronesian states have been given an undertaking by both New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne that Mr Puna is to step down by June.

PIF members discuss Fukushima treated nuclear wastewater with Japan

The Government of Japan committed to ongoing dialogue with Forum Members as a priority follow up to the PALM9 Summit in July. This followed Japan’s announcement in April of plans to begin discharge in 2023, for a period of up to 40 years. The announcement drew strong global response, including from the Forum Chair and Leaders.

In his opening comments at the third briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Henry Puna noted the issues require “open and frank consultation” along with sustained dialogue at the political and technical level.

Kiribati withdraws from Pacific Islands Forum

The formal communication was made to the Government of Fiji as the depositary of the 2000 Agreement Establishing the Pacific Islands Forum. 

In a statement, the Kiribati Government said the decision to withdraw from the Pacific Islands Forum was premised on the selection of the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum which in essence must be made based on consensus in line with the Gentlemen’s Agreement on sub-regional rotation. 

Pacific Islands Forum marks 50th anniversary

The leaders of the Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, Tonga and Samoa together with Australia and New Zealand met in Wellington from 5th-7th August 1971. This was the first South Pacific Forum meeting.

At the time, the only regional organisation established was the South Pacific Commission which was created in 1947.

The leaders of the newly independent island nations understood the external influences that existed in that regional body, which included colonial powers. It was clear another forum was needed.

SG Puna says Forum stands ready to help Samoa

“The Forum family is following closely the developments on the ground in Samoa and encourages all parties to pursue peaceful means to resolve their difficulties. The Forum also stands ready to offer support and help if requested,” Puna said in a statement.

“I ask each of us across our Member nations to keep the people of Samoa in our thoughts and prayers at this time, knowing that Samoa’s sovereign process and the world-renowned Fa’a Samoa will prevail at this critical moment in their history.

PIF's Dame Meg disappointed at lack of action by major emitters

But Dame Meg Taylor has also raised concerns about the lack of sufficient action by others.

She welcomes the US, Japan, UK, Canada and South Korea's commitments to end financing of coal-fired power plants overseas.

However, Dame Meg said it's disheartening that other major emitters have not acted decisively to curb the global climate change emergency.

She also said it's regrettable that no new climate finance commitments were made, despite developing countries knowing the promised 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 has not been delivered.

Micronesia receives unreserved apology from Forum

The dialogue was in regards to the impasse that has transpired from the process of selecting the Pacific Islands Forum secretary general.

Micronesian leaders in attendance - Nauru President Lionel Aingimea and Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo welcomed the sincere words by Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape, Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Dame Meg Taylor, in saying “sorry” to Micronesia for what has resulted in a damaged Pacific family.

EU pleas for Forum to stay united

In February, the five Micronesian members of the Forum announced they would leave in protest at the failure of the organisation to appoint their nominee for secretary general of the regional body.

Instead of choosing Marshall Islands diplomat, Gerald Zackios, the Forum chose former Cook Islands prime minister, Henry Puna.

The Pacific delegation for the EU has issued a statement, saying it believed a strong Pacific Islands Forum, as the premier political regional organisation for the Pacific, was fundamental for this region.