Welcome to the second Forum Nius email bulletin from Greenpeace
In this issue: No Transparency at PIF – NGOs denied access Don’t Be Fooled: Look at the Facts on Nuclear Shipments Solar Café Opens Again
NO TRANSPARENCY AT PIF – NGOs DENIAL ACCESS
Around the world, non-government organisations (NGOs) and civil society are given access to international meetings, a practice that promotes transparency and reflects good governance and responsible leadership. Governments recognise the important role of these organisations and welcome their contribution.
Even the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the benchmark of secretive meetings and processes that lack transparency, allows NGOs observer status at its meetings.
Yet the Pacific Islands Forum defies these good democratic practices, and continues to stop NGO observers from attending its meetings.
Until 2000, NGOs were given media accreditation, enabling access. From 2001 onwards, this ceased, and no alternative arrangements were put in place, leaving NGOs out in the cold (not very pleasant in Auckland’s winter!).
This extraordinarily backward approach defies the rationale of the Cotonou Agreement which all 14 smaller island members of PIF have signed, and is contrary to the stated government policies of the bigger island members Australia and New Zealand, who profess to welcome NGO participation. And what about all of PIF’s great policies on good governance, transparency and accountability?
Whilst steps have been taken to draw up a framework, the process has dragged on far longer than it should have. It has been underway for more than 18 months, meaning NGOs have been refused access to the Forum in 2002 and 2003 while this process grinds slowly on. It is time for the Forum and its member governments to catch up with international practice, and ensure that an accreditation mechanism is in place for PIF35 in 2004.
DON’T BE FOOLED: LOOK AT THE FACTS
Don’t Allow Meaningless Dialogue to Prevent Real Action On Nuclear Shipment
*Fact 1: The proposed dialogue meetings with shipping States will achieve nothing to protect Pacific Islanders from the very real risk of nuclear accidents at sea.
The shipping states have made no real commitments in the four previous meetings. In the meantime they keep sending nuclear shipments through the Pacific.
*Fact 2: The United Kingdom (UK) have still not met a single Pacific demand.
Don’t be hoodwinked by the new friendly UK tone. The only thing that will stop these shipments is real action by the Pacific states: continued diplomatic protests, legal steps and diplomatic initiatives undertaken on a regional basis. Ongoing talks of the kind that have taken place over the past three years will have the same result: continued shipments through the Pacific, with no changes in liability, notification, emergency response or environmental impact assessment. They promise safety but take no responsibility.
At the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting in Vienna, which Greenpeace attended, none of the shipping States offered anything of substance on liability or notification, despite a weeklong meeting focused solely on nuclear transports and repeated statements of concern by Peru, Ireland, New Zealand and other states.
*Fact 3: Legal and diplomatic measures work and have been taken by Chile, with real effect.
Strong protests and statements by the CARICOM states have stopped shipments going through the Caribbean. Even France (a shipping state), Spain, Portugal and other states have taken unilateral action to ban substandard single hulled oil tankers from their waters, following the Prestige oil spill, the environmental effects of which continue to be felt. And France has the cheek to say the Pacific can’t take the same steps.
Legal steps taken by Ireland have made shipping States consult more. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in the Ireland v UK MOX case said that “the duty to cooperate is a fundamental principle in the prevention of pollution of the marine environment”. The shipping States owe this duty of cooperation to the Pacific States over nuclear shipments.
More recently, the ITLOS arbitral tribunal in the Irish case in June of this year made specific recommendations on cooperation. It recommended that the UK reviews with Ireland the whole system of intergovernmental notification and co-operation in respect of Ireland’s concerns about the Sellafield nuclear re-processing plant and imposed reporting requirements.
*Fact 4: The Pacific has started the process - don’t stop now.
In February this year, the Fiji Government and other governments took a formal position to explore and act on legal and political measures to protect the coastal waters of Fiji from future nuclear shipments by the shipping nations of UK, France, Japan and Australia. The Fiji Government’s position to explore and act on legal and political measures was in direct response to the frustration many Pacific Nations are experiencing about the serious lack of progress on liability. Other Pacific Nations, such as Vanuatu, are also exploring legal and political measures to protect their coastal waters from nuclear shipments.
The governments of UK, France and Japan have continued to insult the Pacific by carrying on with their nuclear shipments while refusing to seriously address Pacific demands for full liability for the consequences of a nuclear accident, failing to notify coastal states of shipments and failing to cooperate in emergency response planning and failing to carry out an environmental impact assessment.
The choices for Pacific Nations are to continue being quietened by the shipping states in closed door discussions or to take effective legal and political action to force the shipping states to stop shipping their lethal materials through the Pacific.
*Fact 5: Shipments continue despite problems.
The last nuclear shipment through the region – British Nuclear Fuels vessels Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal breached several Pacific EEZs. They came through without prior warning, consultation with Pacific governments, environmental impact assessments, or clear emergency planning strategies in place. The current liability regime is totally inadequate because it provides no guarantees that damaged island communities would be able to obtain compensation if there should be a sinking, collision, or terrorist attack involving a shipment of ultrahazardous nuclear material.
In the latest insult to coastal States, shipping states at Vienna raised security as a justification for not notifying coastal states. Real security for the Pacific requires protecting the environment and populations from nuclear accidents. Real security for shipments is provided by real security measures such as armed escorts and proper preparation for possible incidents and response and consultation between states. It is not achieved by refusing to tell coastal states or the public about proposed shipments and routing. Provision of information will enhance security by enabling coastal states to engage in preparation and emergency response planning.
Secrecy undermines democracy, provides an illusion of security and makes essential coordination and consultation about emergency response and preparedness more difficult or impossible. Security issues are real and should be addressed comprehensively in a way that has not been done to date.
SOLAR CAFÉ OPENS AGAIN TODAY
The Greenpeace solar café will open again in the morning tea break. All welcome for free coffee and fresh juices from the sun.