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By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Nauru
Smaller Island States of the Pacific Islands Forum want space and time of their own to discuss issues and priorities of shared importance – in light of the increasing complexities of the region’s geopolitical environment.
The declaration was made Tuesday before a Chinese Government representative disrupted the Partners Dialogue Session and walked out of the meeting demanding that he be given the floor to speak.
A number of government ministers and officials that PACNEWS spoke to under condition of anonymity said global powers coming to the region must respect the culture and protocols of the Pacific and our Leaders if it wants to get our support.
“What transpired at the Partners Dialogue Session was diplomatically unwarranted and disrespectful of Pacific Leaders who were in the room, said an official,
He reiterated the need for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to put in place guidelines to deal with countries like the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan who used the annual Leaders’ Summit as a platform to compete with each other’s interest.
“SIS Leaders further agreed that consideration be given to delegate the responsibilities of the Forum Dialogue Partners meeting to Forum Foreign Ministers at their meeting in 2019 and onwards. Leaders also agreed to raise this issue at the wider Forum Leaders Retreat and tasked the Secretariat to prepare a proposal for this purpose.
They noted the critical role of the SIS in advancing their key interests.
“Leaders reaffirmed their solidarity by participating in meetings, especially the SIS Leaders Meeting, where critical decisions are made thereby reinforcing the value in caucusing as a small grouping before voices are heard in the wider Forum.
To further reinforce the relevance of the SIS grouping, as a political bloc, Leaders emphasised the need for greater commitment to utilise existing mechanisms to progress SIS priorities through more frequent interventions, including but not limited to the use of available technologies to convene meetings out-of-session.
“Leaders recognised the pressing and ongoing threats faced by Smaller Island States regarding the effects of sea level rise and supported the decision to request the International Law Commission to place the topic of ‘Sea Level Rise in relation to international law’ on its long term programme of work, as well as its active programme of work in order to examine the international law implications of sea level rise as a matter of extreme urgency.
Leaders agreed to prioritising issues such as the commitment to the Paris Agreement and to focus their efforts on taking advantage of opportunities to strengthening engagement with external partners.
The Smaller Island Leaders’ Summit was held on Monday 03 September and attended by the leaders of Cooks Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu. Palau was represented by a minister of state.
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