Articles: 44th Pacific Islands Forum: Forum Communique
FORTY-FOURTH PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM
MAJURO, REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS
3 – 5 SEPTEMBER 2013
PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT
The Forty-Fourth Pacific Islands Forum was held in Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands, from 3 – 5 September 2013 and was attended by Heads of State and Government of the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.
The Republic of Vanuatu and Australia were represented by their Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader of the Government in the
Senate respectively. New Caledonia and French Polynesia attended the formal session as Associate Members. Timor-Leste, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group, Asian Development Bank, the United Nations (UN), the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries
Commission (WCPFC) and the World Bank attended as Observers. The Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP): the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (PIFFA); the Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP); the Pacific Power Association (PPA); the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC); the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO); the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP); and the University of the South Pacific (USP) were represented by their respective Heads of Organisations and senior officials.
The Forum Leaders Retreat was held on Eneko Island on 5 September 2013.
2. Leaders expressed their deep gratitude to the President, the Government and people of
the Republic of the Marshall Islands for the excellent arrangements made in hosting the 2013
Leaders‟ meeting, and for the kind hospitality extended to them during their stay in Majuro.
REVIEW OF THE PACIFIC PLAN
3. Leaders welcomed the briefing provided by Sir Mekere Morauta, the Eminent Person
who led the review of the Pacific Plan, on the preliminary findings and recommendations
from the review. They thanked Sir Mekere Morauta and his Review Team for their extensive
consultation and advisory work over the past year and the in-depth analysis that went into
their preliminary findings and recommendations. Leaders looked forward to the Final Review
Report of the Review Team to be submitted to the Secretariat by the end of October 2013, for
onward transmission to the Leaders.
4. Leaders tasked the Forum Officials Committee to review and consider the Final
Review Report once finalised and to report to Leaders on proposed next steps for their
consideration at the Special Leaders‟ Retreat within six months after receipt of the Final
5. Leaders recognised the key achievements outlined in the 2013 Pacific Plan Annual
Progress Report. They endorsed the relevant recommendations of the Forum Disability
Ministers Meeting held in Papua New Guinea in October 2012, namely:
Level Meeting on Disability to be held in New York in September 2013;
ii) promoting and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
and developing and implementing national policies and legislation consistent with
the Convention; and
iii) recognising that a long-term approach is required to support the rights of persons
with disability in the Pacific and acknowledging the good work that has been
implemented under the Pacific Regional Strategy for Disability.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FORUM COMPACT
6. Leaders reviewed and endorsed the findings of the 2013 Pacific Regional MDGs
Tracking Report and the 2013 Tracking the Effectiveness of Development Efforts Report and
agreed to reinvigorate their commitment to accelerating the achievement of the MDGs and to
send out a call to action to their respective key Ministries to double up efforts on areas where
MDGs achievement is feasible. Leaders agreed to maintain strong political leadership and
commitment, in close collaboration with Ministers of Finance and National Planning, if
improvements to planning, budgeting, public financial management and aid management are
to be realised and sustained.
THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA, DEVELOPMENT OF SUSTAINABLE
DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGs), AND THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL
CONFERENCE ON SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES (SIDS)
7. Leaders reiterated the importance of the discussions on the post-2015 development
agenda/SDGs and the opportunity for the Pacific to contribute, as well as to shape, the new
development paradigm. Leaders renewed their calls for coherence of the parallel processes,
ensuring important priorities that are specific to the Pacific, including disaster risk
management, culture, and mental health, are included as goals and targets with indicators that
are appropriate for Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs).
8. Leaders noted the vital role of CROP agencies in supporting Pacific Island Countries
(PICs) to prepare for the SIDS 2014 Conference, and the need for their greater inclusion in
the Conference and its preparatory processes. They also emphasised the importance of an
open, transparent and inclusive discussion on the post-2015 development agenda/SDGs, and
directed that the Pacific position advocated in the global arena must account for all relevant
Pacific regional and national meetings/consultations, including directions provided by Forum
9. Leaders noted the generous support of Tonga, and of New Zealand and the European
Union, in respectively hosting the Pacific Leaders Energy Summit in Tonga and the Pacific
Energy Summit in New Zealand, and welcomed the outcomes of these meetings, including
commitments made by development partners.
10. Leaders supported the initiative by Tonga to establish a Pacific Regional Data
Repository for Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All). Leaders noted that Tonga will launch
the SE4All Declaration establishing the Repository in the margins of the 68th Session of the
United Nations General Assembly.
11. Leaders also welcomed the proposal by SPC and partner agencies to organise a
Pacific Energy and Transport Ministers meeting in 2014. The meeting will assess progress in
the implementation of: the commitments made at the two Pacific Leaders‟ Energy Summits
in achieving the United Nation‟s SE4All objectives; the Leaders‟ declarations on energy and
transport; and the Waiheke Declaration. The meeting will also reaffirm the importance of
energy security, energy efficiency, and the promotion of clean and affordable energy.
12. Leaders reaffirmed the importance of infrastructure to the sustainable development of
the Pacific, and the need for this to be recognised in the shaping of the post-2015
development agenda/SDGs. They urged development partners to provide ongoing support for
the development of integrated Infrastructure and Investment Plans at the national and
regional levels and for their utilisation as the basis for priority infrastructure maintenance,
development and technical assistance.
13. Leaders requested the Forum Secretariat, in coordination with relevant CROP
agencies and development partners, to work with officials to explore various funding models
(such as blended finance and public-private partnerships) that will support and improve the
ability of the private sector to develop, evaluate, execute and monitor infrastructure projects.
They also noted the need to develop and expand Information and Communications
Technology (ICT) services in the Pacific, and called for development partners‟ support for
identified priority funding areas, and for regular updates on progress in implementing the
regional ICT plan.
14. Leaders noted progress made in the implementation of their decisions in the fisheries
sector. They considered the challenges faced in following Leaders‟ directives, including slow
progress in trade negotiations, limited clarity of CROP agencies‟ role in SIDS preparations,
difficulties in meeting export regulations with limited resources, limited information on
coastal activities, limited commitment to sea cucumber stock rebuilding in some countries,
and difficulties in working with cyclical funding.
15. Leaders noted the collaboration between PIFFA and the SPC in implementing key
initiatives to better support members in pursuing strengthened fisheries governance and
economic development, and recognised the resources required to provide ongoing support to
these agencies‟ work and to reduce dependency on donor funding.
16. Leaders urged Forum Island Countries (FICs) to continue to support the work of both
organisations in delivering services to FICs in the fisheries sector.
17. Leaders endorsed the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership which is attached as
Annex 1. The Declaration is intended to highlight the Leaders‟ strong political commitment to
be the region of Climate Leaders, and is an effort to spark a new wave of climate leadership
that accelerates the reduction and phasing down of greenhouse gas pollution worldwide.
18. Climate change was discussed extensively during the meetings of the Leaders
including the Smaller Island States Leaders meeting. Leaders recognised the need for
strengthened national systems to plan for, access, deliver, absorb and monitor climate change
financing. They called on donors and development partners to report on their climate change
financing and how they differentiate or integrate such financing with their ODA allocations,
noting New Zealand and Australia‟s existing efforts in this regard.
19. Leaders urged donors to continue to simplify and harmonise their assessment,
implementation and reporting processes for funding and assistance to reduce the complexity
of current arrangements, and reiterated member countries‟ preference for using national
systems and modalities for channelling climate change finance guided by relevant country
owned policies and plans for adaptation, mitigation and risk reduction.
20. Leaders noted progress in implementing the Oceanscape initiative, notably the
development of a draft implementation plan. Leaders endorsed the concept notes prepared to
support the implementation plan, noting that these are subject to further refinement. Leaders
also endorsed their use by the Marine Sector Working Group in targeting funding
21. Leaders recalled their decision from their meeting in Rarotonga in 2012 of the
importance of effectively dealing with invasive species at both national and regional levels.
They agreed that integrated action through effective partnerships was required to actively
address the escalating threat of invasive species on Pacific economies and environments,
including efforts to enhance climate change adaptation, ecosystem resilience, food security,
biological diversity and the development of sustainable economies.
22. Leaders encouraged SPREP and SPC, in collaboration with the Advisory Group of
PICTs to further national and regional efforts to eradicate and limit the spread of invasive
23. Leaders urged FICs that have yet to fully implement the Pacific Islands Countries
Trade Agreement (PICTA) and to ratify the PICTA Trade In Services Protocol to do so with
urgency. They directed trade officials to actively build on the substantial progress made in the
PACER Plus negotiations as directed by Forum Trade Ministers. Leaders further directed
trade officials to continue to work with the European Union in concluding the negotiations on
the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union. Leaders also noted the
“Regional Culture Strategy – Investing in Pacific Cultures 2010-2020”.
24. Leaders acknowledged with gratitude funding from the Governments of Australia and
New Zealand for the Pacific Education Development Framework (PEDF). The Framework
provides an overarching strategy to guide investments and initiatives in education across the
region and at the country level. Leaders encouraged development partners to increase funding
for the PEDF to deliver more effective educational outcomes at the national and regional
REGIONAL HEALTH INITIATIVES
25. Leaders noted progress made by PICTs in addressing the Non-Communicable Disease
(NCD) crisis and endorsed further actions recommended through the Apia Communiqué by
the 10th Pacific Ministers of Health Meeting and the 2013 Forum Economic Ministers
Meeting Action Plan. Leaders also acknowledged the significant changes proposed for the
governance of regional health developments, including:
i) the development of a framework to guide health development in the Pacific and
its sustainable financing, which will include major interventions outside the
ii) the establishment of an annual consultative process involving the Heads of health
ministries or departments, which will provide overall governance for the regional
health sector and consider the strategic priorities and related policy issues, and
advise Health Ministers accordingly;
iii) the closer alignment of the health development process to Forum processes; and
iv) the involvement of the Forum Secretariat, together with the SPC and the World
Health Organisation, in supporting the health development process.
26. Leaders noted that regional investments in responses to NCDs have helped countries
establish policy and programme settings and urged increased country-level investment and
accountability. Leaders also recognised the importance of sports in addressing NCDs and
noted the 3rd Pacific Islands Sports Ministers Meeting Communiqué adopted at Wallis and
REGIONAL GENDER INITIATIVES
27. Leaders recognised progress made in implementing the Pacific Leaders‟ Gender
Equality Declaration over the past year. Progress included the enactment of national enabling
legislation of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
in some FICs, introduction of specific measures to increase women‟s representation in
parliament and local government, enactment of domestic violence legislation, and
improvement in access to education for girls and women. All these were captured in the
Pacific Regional MDG Tracking Report, which was focussed on gender.
28. Leaders called for accelerated efforts to fulfil the Pacific Leaders‟ Gender Equality
Declaration priorities, with specific focus on: addressing gender inequalities; supporting
women with disabilities; adopting temporary special measures to improve women‟s access to
employment and economic opportunities; and improving sexual reproductive health services.
Leaders agreed to continue to support the integration of gender equality and women‟s
empowerment into sustainable development policies and decisions.
REGIONAL ASSISTANCE MISSION TO SOLOMON ISLANDS (RAMSI)
29. Leaders commended the joint achievements made by the Solomon Islands
Government and RAMSI to date. They also noted the progression of RAMSI to a regional
policing mission with the withdrawal of its military component, and the shift of RAMSI‟s
civilian development initiatives to bilateral and other donor programmes from 1 July 2013.
30. Leaders noted and supported the recommendations of the 7th Meeting of the Forum
Ministerial Standing Committee on RAMSI relating to the future oversight of RAMSI
activities, and agreed that the Forum Ministerial Standing Committee on RAMSI will not be
required to meet again. They also agreed that the Enhanced Consultative Mechanism (ECM)
on RAMSI meet in 2014 to review developments over the year and make recommendations
on future arrangements, and that the report of the 2014 ECM on RAMSI be conveyed to the
Forum Leaders through the Forum Regional Security Committee and the Forum Officials
31. Leaders acknowledged with appreciation ongoing financial assistance provided by the
New Zealand Government, and the generous and substantial financial commitment by the
Government of Australia of AUD499.8 million as continued funding for RAMSI and its
successor programmes from 2013 to 2017.
32. Leaders commended with gratitude the assistance provided by all Forum contributing
countries towards RAMSI and the Solomon Islands over the last ten years. They noted the
experience gained by contributing police personnel and expressed the hope to build on this by
countries contributing to future regional and international operations.
33. Leaders also noted the independent review of RAMSI commissioned by the Solomon
Islands Government and its intention to present the findings to Forum members in the future.
34. Leaders noted the Forum‟s ongoing work to encourage and support Fiji‟s return to
parliamentary democracy in accordance with the Biketawa Declaration and reiterated the
Forum‟s intention to remain engaged with Fiji. They also noted progress made towards
democratic elections to be held no later than September 2014 in line with the Forum‟s
principles, and the reiteration of assurances by the Government to the Forum Ministerial
Contact Group on Fiji (MCG) that there would be no media restrictions in relation to the
constitutional consultation process, and that elections would be free and fair.
35. Leaders noted the expectations of the people of Fiji and the international community
for free and fair elections achieved through: a constitution that credibly reflects public views;
an independent elections oversight mechanism and election monitoring; free and fair
participation by political parties in the electoral process with fair and timely registration;
independent election monitoring; freedom of expression, media and assembly in election
preparations; and a general acceptance of the election outcome by the people of Fiji.
36. Leaders reaffirmed their longstanding offer to support Fiji‟s early return to
parliamentary democracy, including through the provision of appropriate assistance,
consistent with the Forum‟s underlying principles and values for respect for democracy, good
governance and the rule of law. Leaders welcomed the successful visit of the Forum
Ministerial Contact Group on Fiji on 12 April 2013 and considered the Group‟s report to
Forum Leaders, including the MCG Chair‟s additional report on the situation in Fiji since the
Group‟s visit in April 2013.
37. Leaders welcomed the report by the MCG that Fiji has continued to make progress
towards holding national elections by September 2014.
38. Leaders welcomed the release of Fiji‟s new constitution on 22 August 2013, and its
imminent approval by the President of Fiji. They noted that this was an important step
towards free and fair elections.
39. Leaders expressed a commitment to revisit Fiji‟s suspension from the Forum after free
and fair elections in accordance with guidance from the Special Leaders‟ Retreat in 2009 and
the expectations set by the MCG during their visit in April 2013, and looked forward to
inviting Fiji back to the Leaders‟ Meetings.
TRANSNATIONAL AND BROADER SECURITY ISSUES
40. Leaders noted the ongoing threats to the region including from transnational organised
crime groups. They emphasised the importance of interagency cooperation and information
sharing at national, regional and international levels to prevent and mitigate these threats, and
acknowledged the work by regional law enforcement agencies.
41. Leaders also noted the ongoing threats posed by Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and the
activities undertaken to implement the Regional Unexploded Ordnance Strategy. Leaders
encouraged Members, the Forum Secretariat, development partners, international bodies and
clearance service providers to continue coordinating efforts to assist affected communities.
42. Leaders welcomed the Agreement on Strengthening Implementation of the Niue Treaty
on Cooperation in Fisheries Surveillance and Law Enforcement in the South Pacific. They
encouraged Members to sign and ratify the Agreement to allow its entry into force, enhancing
fisheries and wider law enforcement activities, and facilitate sharing of fisheries data and
43. Leaders commended the constructive role played by Forum Member States of the
United Nations in the UN negotiations for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), consistent with the
call by Forum Leaders in 2011 for Members to „ensure a strong and proactive voice in ATT
negotiations‟. They recalled the strong common position taken on the ATT by the Forum and
the Treaty‟s recent adoption and opening for signature in New York. Leaders welcomed the
number of Forum members who had already signed the ATT and noted New Zealand‟s
intention to draft model implementing legislation and to invite Forum members to attend a
regional workshop to discuss this later this year. Leaders encouraged all Forum and United
Nations members to consider signing the ATT as soon as practicable.
44. Leaders encouraged all States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban
Treaty (CTBT) as a practical step towards nuclear disarmament, and noted the practical value
and potential of the CTBT verification system, including for earthquake and tsunami warning
networks in the Pacific.
45. Leaders also welcomed the outcomes of the inaugural South Pacific Defence Ministers
Meeting in Nuku‟alofa, Tonga, including the importance of integrating the dialogue into the
wider regional architecture.
46. Leaders were informed of the region‟s progress in addressing corruption through
increased engagement with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC),
and committed to increasing efforts to address corruption, including through ratification and
implementation of UNCAC.
47. Leaders noted the establishment of a Pacific Islands Forum Reference Group on
Women, Peace and Security to monitor and oversee the implementation of the Regional
Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, which seeks to increase the participation of
women in preventing, managing, and resolving conflicts. They also acknowledged the work
of the Pacific Islands Forum Reference Group to Address Sexual and Gender Based Violence
(SGBV) and reinforced that all forms of SGBV should not be tolerated, and that police and
community agencies have an important role in addressing SGBV.
48. Leaders noted the range of work being undertaken at the regional level to mainstream
youth issues, increase youth training and employment and support youth participation in
RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINANTS IN THE REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS
49. Leaders recalled that the Republic of the Marshall Islands was placed by the
international community under the trusteeship of the United Nations administered by the
United States of America, both of which therefore have ongoing obligations to encourage a
final and just resolution for the Marshallese people. They welcomed the recommendations in
the Special Rapporteur‟s report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in September
2012 following the Special Rapporteur‟s missions to the Republic of the Marshall Islands and
the United States of America in March and April 2012.
50. Leaders supported bilateral and multilateral action to assist the Republic of the
Marshall Islands in its efforts to engage the United States towards a justified resolution to the
U.S. Nuclear Testing Programme and considered submitting letters to the U.S. Government
urging the United States to take action to meaningfully address the ongoing impacts resulting
from the U.S. Nuclear Testing Programme, and to the United Nations Secretary-General to
address the ongoing impacts of nuclear testing in the Pacific.
51. Leaders also agreed to stand in solidarity with the people of the Republic of the
Marshall Islands as they face the challenges of overcoming the nuclear legacy.
POST-FORUM DIALOGUE PARTNERS
52. Leaders agreed to admit Cuba as the fifteenth Post-Forum Dialogue Partner, and noted
that they will attend the 2014 Post-Forum Dialogue Plenary.
53. Leaders agreed to defer consideration of Spain‟s application for Post-Forum Dialogue
membership to their next meeting.
54. Leaders welcomed the successful visit of the Forum Ministerial Committee to New
Caledonia on 17 – 19 July 2013, and endorsed the Forum Chair‟s report on the visit.
SIXTH PACIFIC LEADERS MEETING (PALM 6)
55. Leaders welcomed Japan‟s support for the Pacific Islands Forum and its intention to
promote coordination between the Pacific Islands Forum and the PALM processes to further
enhance cooperation with the Pacific region. Leaders welcomed Japan‟s initiative to hold the
second Ministerial Interim Meeting in 2013 in order to monitor and evaluate the
implementation of the key PALM 6 outcomes.
56. Leaders noted the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands‟ briefing on, and agreed to
monitor, the Nansen Initiative and Ocean 21 initiative.
57. Leaders reaffirmed support for New Zealand‟s candidature for the United Nations
Security Council to maintain a Pacific voice in the world‟s primary body to address
international peace and security. Australia thanked Forum members for their support in its
successful bid for United Nations Security Council membership.
OUTCOMES OF THE SIS LEADERS MEETING
58. Leaders endorsed the outcomes of the SIS Leaders Meeting held in Majuro on 3
59. Leaders noted with concern the situation in Syria. They expressed their abhorrence at
the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government. They called on all members of the
United Nations Security Council, individually and collectively, to provide leadership in
resolving this significant threat to international peace and security and to holding the Syrian
Government to account for its actions.
60. Leaders commended the outgoing Chair, Honourable Henry Puna, Prime Minister of
Cook Islands, and his Government for their leadership of the Forum over the past year.
VENUE FOR NEXT MEETING
61. Leaders welcomed the offer of the Republic of Palau to host the 2014 Forum.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
(Signed) Eneko Island, Republic of the Marshall Islands, 5 September 2013.
- Final PIF 44th Forum Communique provided by RMI Government on September 17, 2013