29 August 2012
Dialogue and development key to deepening and broadening scope of collaboration.
The Commonwealth seeks to be of practical assistance to its member countries in the Pacific islands, as well as other regional small island states in the Pacific Islands Forum.
Max Everest-Phillips, Director of Governance and Institutional Development at the Commonwealth Secretariat, told leaders at the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, today that the Commonwealth aims to add value to regional efforts to overcome vulnerability and strengthen resilience.
“We can do this more effectively in tandem with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat,” said Mr Everest-Phillips, who was representing Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, at this year’s meeting.
“We continue to help with building institutional capacity in democratic institutions and in public sector management; to support enterprise development and income generation; to promote gender equality and empowerment of women; to advance social protection and stronger social services. Our door remains open to opportunities for partnership and collaboration in these areas where we have a track record of adding value and bringing comparative advantage.”
Mr Everest-Phillips cited the Commonwealth Pacific Governance Facility based in Honiara, Solomon Islands, as a platform from which the Commonwealth Secretariat provides targeted and specific technical assistance in support of the Pacific Plan.
“The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is our front row partner in this flagship Commonwealth initiative. We hope to continue exploring new ways in which our partnership can be deepened and extended across the region, including the possibility of folding the Commonwealth Pacific Governance Facility more closely into our collaboration in order to strengthen it further. This would mean that all Forum member countries wishing to benefit from the provision of expert advice, especially advice offered from across the Commonwealth on a South-South basis, could do so,” he added.
Mr Everest-Phillips stated that the Commonwealth’s efforts are “immeasurably enriched as a result of the deepening of the dialogue and partnership” with the Forum Secretariat based in Fiji Islands. He pointed out that the congruence of approaches by both the Commonwealth and the Forum Secretariat make for a pragmatic regional relationship through which the depth and scope of collaboration can be expanded through joint practical action. The areas of common interest shared by both organisations, he said, can lead to mutual expressions of political will to translate concrete plans into action.
Mr Everest-Phillips said a significant achievement for the Pacific region is the series of bilateral treaties among several Forum Island Countries to be signed at the Pacific Islands Forum. He said these treaties were developed following the sustainable of legal and technical advice by the Commonwealth Secretariat. Mr Everest-Phillips said they illustrate the practical impact achieved by the Commonwealth in partnership with Forum Island Countries.
“For decades, the absence of agreed maritime boundaries has hindered national and regional efforts to manage the ocean space that is so critical to the sustainable development of the Pacific. These treaties will, upon their entry into force, provide legal certainty and help to position each of these countries to conserve and better manage the resources of the ocean, including important fisheries and seabed resources for the benefit of present and future generations.”