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Pacific voices ignored at Pacific Islands Forum

27 October 2005

Pacific voices ignored in the Pacific Islands Forum communiqué.

The voices of the people of the Pacific have been completely ignored, according to Rae Julian, Executive Director of the Council for International Development (CID), commenting on the Pacific Islands Forum communiqué.

“I was part of a widely representative group of NGOs from most of the Forum countries that met in Port Moresby for four days before the Leaders’ Meeting to discuss the draft Pacific Plan. Many of them were regional and umbrella organisations and therefore linked to communities, church organisations, trade unions and national agencies.

They brought the views of their members to the meeting, and these were then consolidated into a civil society communiqué. This was presented to Greg Urwin, Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat for delivery to the Leaders on the eve of the Forum. We were informed that they received the document.

There is no trace of our recommendations in the Leaders’ communiqué – not even an acknowledgement of its receipt. We had alternative views on some matters, especially the trade issues, but we attempted to present them in a constructive way. Our main message was a plea to be included in all future stages of the Pacific Plan, to slow down the process in order to allow for greater consultation.

We urged consideration of gender issues, of a strategy for youth training and job creation and for inclusion of people living with disabilities. We indicated also that security is better maintained through poverty eradication and sustainable development working from the community level than through law enforcement from above.

I am extremely disappointed that our efforts to contribute to the Plan have been bypassed. The governments should realise that they need the people on side in order to get support for its implementation. This document is owned only by a small group of politicians and officials – it is just another piece of paper which will do little to meet the real needs of the region,” concluded Rae Julian.

ENDS

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