12 October 2007
Secretary-General Don McKinnon will address the 38th Pacific Islands Forum summit in, Tonga, on 16 October 2007 at the opening of the three-day meeting
In a revamped Pacific Islands Forum format, the Secretary-General will be the only non-Pacific Head of Government to be given the opportunity to address the leaders in their plenary executive session.
In his speech, the Secretary-General will focus on the extent to which the Commonwealth’s support for the Pacific region has escalated in the last seven years, and will underline the Commonwealth’s continued commitment to deliver practical projects in the region in support of good governance, democracy and human rights in particular. Commonwealth assistance to the Pacific is expected to increase to about £2 million per annum by next year in projects and technical assistance, the highest level in the more-than-40-year history of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The Secretary-General is expected to confirm the launch of a new Commonwealth Pacific Governance Programme in support of the region’s home-grown Pacific Plan. This will include an initial capital injection by the Commonwealth Secretariat of £1 million and the placement of a project manager in Suva in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. The new Programme will focus on better public access to information; stronger democratic institutions; better ways of fighting corruption and improving transparency; and stronger ways of addressing land ownership and land usage.
“The Commonwealth will continue to support the development of the Pacific region in building a peaceful and stable community of states that will enable it to thrive,” said Mr McKinnon.
The Secretary-General is also expected to comment in his public address and meetings with leaders on the situation in Fiji, reaffirming the Commonwealth’s offer of assistance to achieve fresh elections and the restoration of democracy, and stressing the Commonwealth‘s commitment to dialogue with the Interim Government. He is also expected to reaffirm the Secretariat’s support for reconciliation processes in Solomon Islands.
Mr McKinnon is also due to update the region’s leaders on the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala, Uganda. More than half of the Pacific Forum’s members are also Commonwealth member states, and both organizations have active political and technical assistance programmes in support of small states and their particular concerns on issues such as climate change.
“More work needs to be done to ensure that the Pacific achieves the stability, security, growth and opportunity that its peoples deserve. The Commonwealth will continue to be a trusted partner and friend in realising that vision, through support for national and regional activities. That is the essence of the message I am conveying to the region.”
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Note to Editors
Commonwealth members of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) include Australia, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand (and self-governing countries in association with New Zealand: Cook Islands and Niue), Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The other PIF members are the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Republic of Marshall Islands.
The Pacific Plan launched in 2005 is targeted at enhancing economic regionalism by strengthening co-operation and integration to realise the vision of socio-economic and political development. The four pillars of the Pacific Plan include economic growth, sustainable development, good governance and security.