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Solomon Islands joins Commonwealth Small States Office in Geneva

26 September 2011
An opportunity for our voice to be heard – Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Shanel Agovaka

Solomon Islands has officially opened its office at the Commonwealth Small States Office in Geneva.

The country joins Maldives, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and Sierra Leone as tenants at the Geneva hub.

Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Shanel Agovaka said the office would house Solomon Islands' Permanent Mission to the United Nations and representative to other international organisations in Geneva.

“Solomon Islands' presence here no doubt provides the opportunity for us to ensure our voice is heard. Equally important, our presence here through this Mission will enable us to better and more closely collaborate with various international agencies and partners.”

The Commonwealth Small States Office in Geneva opened in January 2011 following decisions taken by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their summits in Kampala in 2007 and Trinidad and Tobago in 2009.

The office provides a base for delegations visiting Geneva and enables them to establish a diplomatic presence in the region for bilateral accreditation in Europe and to the many multilateral organisations in the city, including the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, the UN Human Rights Council, and the International Labour Organization.

Mr Agovaka thanked the Commonwealth Secretariat, Canton of Geneva and the Swiss Confederation, Australia, India, Singapore and other donors for their help in setting up the office.

He added that the office would strengthen Solomon Islands' position in trade, international diplomacy and development, including future work with the Commonwealth.

Plans are under way for the Commonwealth Secretariat to provide tenants with additional support by basing resident technical experts on trade and human rights in the office.

These plans have been welcomed by Solomon Islands.

“We always face the challenge caused by capacity constraints and having the services of the human rights experts will surely enhance our human rights work, especially in building institutional strength in democratic institutions; promoting gender equality and empowerment of women; and advancing social protection and stronger social services,” Mr Agovaka said.