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Group named to review Pacific Forum issues

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

3 November 2003

Group named to review Pacific Forum issues

An Eminent Persons Group of senior regional figures has been formed to undertake a comprehensive review of the Pacific Islands Forum and the issues confronting it, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

The review, which will be overseen by Prime Minister Helen Clark as Forum Chair, involves extensive consultation throughout the region and with external countries and organisations.

The Eminent Persons Group consists of former Kiribati President Teburoro Tito, former PNG Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan, Samoan Ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma, University of the South Pacific pro-Chancellor Dr Langi Kavaliku, and retired Australian diplomat Bob Cotton.

“The Pacific is changing quickly in a whole range of areas. Security, for instance, is a much bigger regional issue than it was just a few years ago,” Mr Goff said.

“Pacific leaders were clear at this year’s summit in Auckland that the Forum must remain relevant and engaged with the changing needs of the region.

"This review will be a vital first step in identifying how the Forum can best meet future demands, how its mandate can be revitalised, how to ensure that the best mechanisms are in place to support development, cooperation and integration.”

Mr Goff said a larger Reflection Group, chaired by the Prime Minister and made up of other experts from the Pacific, would act as a sounding board for the Eminent Persons Group later in the review process.

The review report, which will make recommendations about the future shape and direction of the Pacific Islands Forum, will be presented to the Chair, Forum leaders and incoming Forum Secretary General Greg Urwin, early in the New Year.

The review will be supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Pacific Division, with funding shared between New Zealand and Australia.

Copies of the review’s terms of reference are available from Jocelyn Woodley at MFAT.

ENDS

All Phil Goff’s media releases and speeches are posted at www.beehive.govt.nz


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