Pacific Islands Forum

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  • The Pacific Islands Forum, originally known as the South Pacific Forum (1971–2000), was founded in 1971 to give heads of state a forum to discuss concerns and issues that affect the independent, self-governing states of the South Pacific. The Federated States of Micronesia, Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Western Samoa are all members of the Forum, which has its headquarters in Suva, Fiji.
  • Senior Forum representatives suggested during the group’s inaugural meeting that a permanent bureau be set up to handle economic issues; the proposal was approved the following year. The South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation was the outcome, and it was founded in April 1973. Its goal was to make it easier for its members to cooperate on trade, tourism, transportation, and economic growth. In response to the political unrest in the region, Forum leaders adopted the Biketawa Declaration in 2000. This document outlined a number of principles and recommendations for members to follow in order to advance open, democratic, and transparent government as well as equal rights for all citizens, regardless of gender, race, color, creed, or political belief.
  • Every year, the Forum hosts a gathering of political leaders. A ministerial-level dialogue meeting involving a few non-regional parties, such as Canada, China, the European Union, France, Great Britain, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the United States, is held following the annual summit.
History
  • Cook Islander Premier Albert Henry’s idea for a political forum to cooperate with the current South Pacific Commission gave rise to the Forum. Other recently independent island states agreed to meet to explore the creation of a permanent body since they agreed with the concept.
  • The South Pacific Forum’s initial gathering, which was organized by New Zealand and held in Wellington, New Zealand, from August 5 to 7, 1971, included representatives from the following seven nations: the Premier of the Cook Islands, the President of Nauru, the Prime Ministers of Western Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji, the Minister for External Territories of Australia, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
  • A variety of topics of common concern were discussed in private and informally, with a focus on concerns that directly affect the day-to-day lives of the inhabitants of the South Pacific islands. Trade, shipping, tourism, and education received particular emphasis. Following then, this gathering was conducted yearly in alternate member nations and regions.
  • To better reflect regions outside the south Pacific, the 30th South Pacific Forum resolved to change the organization’s name to the Pacific Islands Forum in 1999. The Post Forum Dialogue (PFD), which is held with PFD development partners from all over the world, is held at the ministerial level immediately following the forum’s annual meeting at the head of government level.
Suspension of Fiji
  1. The Forum threatened to suspend Fiji in August 2008 if the country did not agree to hold parliamentary elections by March 2009. The Pacific Islands Forum leaders then established a deadline of 1 May by which Fiji must select a date for elections before the end of the year during a special leaders’ conference in Papua New Guinea in January 2009.
  2. Fiji disapproved of the deadline. Consequently, Fiji’s membership in the Forum was immediately and indefinitely halted on May 2. The suspension was seen to be “especially timely given the recent disturbing deterioration of the political, legal, and human rights situation in Fiji since April 10, 2009,” according to Toke Talagi, the Niuean premier and chair of the Pacific Islands Forum.
  3. A dictatorship that “displays such a total disregard for basic human rights, democracy, and freedom,” according to him, violates Fiji’s status as a member of the Pacific Islands Forum. However, Talagi emphasized that Fiji had not been expelled and would be welcomed back into the fold once it returned to the path of “constitutional democracy, through free and fair elections”.
  4. For the first time in the history of the then-38-year-old Pacific Islands Forum, Fiji’s suspension in 2009 signified the expulsion of a nation.
  5. The Forum removed Fiji’s suspension on October 22, 2014, following the country’s general election on September 17, 2014.
Membership
  • The U.S. territory of Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands received observer status in the Pacific Islands Forum in September 2011, while French Polynesia and New Caledonia received full participation in September 2016. Both Hawaii, an oceanic state of the United States, and Chile’s Easter Island have thought of being represented.
  • In 2022, Kiribati left the Forum. The next year, in 2023, the government of Kiribati changed its mind and decided to rejoin the group. To make its intentions known, President Taneti Mamau of Kiribati met with Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka of Fiji to discuss Kiribati’s plan. According to Rabuka, Kiribati has made amends with the Pacific Islands Forum and will shortly re-join the organization. Rabuka verified to the media that such a meeting had really taken place.

The South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation (SPEC), which eventually became the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, was initially founded in 1972 as a trade bureau. In 1988, member nations agreed the name South Pacific Forum Secretariat, which was later renamed to Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in 2000.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is divided into four divisions, and each division is directly in charge of a variety of initiatives aimed at enhancing the capacities of Forum member nations and coordinating action on issues of shared interest:

  • Economic and Development Policy
  • Investment and Trade
  • International, political, and legal issues
  • Business Services

The 1995-founded Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) is crucial in analyzing regional economic trends.

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