Pacific Island leaders welcome the release of Fiji's new constitution | Pacific Beat

Pacific Island leaders welcome the release of Fiji's new constitution

Pacific Island leaders welcome the release of Fiji's new constitution

Updated 5 September 2013, 16:46 AEST

In The Marshall Islands the leaders of the member nations of the Pacific Island Forum have finished their retreat, and presented their outcomes statement.

Australia Network's Pacific Correspondent Sean Dorney is there and has been at media briefing, and he joins us now.

Presenter: Campbell Cooney

Speaker: Sean Dorney, Australia Network Pacific Correspondent

DORNEY: The decision on Fiji is basically to welcome the progress that has been made towards elections next year. They have welcomed, leaders have welcomed the release of Fiji's new constitution, and its imminent approval by the President of Fiji, noting that it was an important step towards free and fair elections. They're also saying they're going to support Fiji in that movement to elections and they've expressed a commitment to revisit Fiji's suspension from the Forum after the result of those free and fair elections. So there's no decision to readmit Fiji, there's a welcome for the progress that the leaders felt was being made towards those elections next year, but the consideration of Fiji's readmission will come after the elections. And those elections aren't due until the end of September, which could well be after the next meeting, which is going to be in Palau. So it could be a little time off, more than 12 months before Fiji is welcomed back in. Whether Fiji will want to join if Commodore Bainimarama wins the election is a totally different question.
COONEY: Now certainly the Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key speaking to you mentioned that he hoped that the issue of Fiji would not be the main issue, that there would be other issues addressed and identified. Were there other issues that came before that one in the statement that has also been addressed by the leaders?
DORNEY: Very much so, the section dealing with Fiji comes on page six of the communiqué. The first issue of importance I think to the hosts here anyway, the Marshall Islands, is that Majuro Declaration for climate leadership that has been adopted. That begins by saying climate change has arrived, it's the greatest threat to the livelihood, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific, and one of the greatest challenges for the entire world. This declaration commits the leaders to try and show international leadership on the issue of climate change. They've also stressed that its their responsibility as well to act on sustainable energy, and they've recognised the unique vulnerability of these countries, and the catastrophic impact on the security of their people. So there's also a list attached to this Majuro Declaration of the sorts of things the various different countries in the Pacific are doing to try and reduce their own emissions, which are pretty negligible, but also to move towards renewable energy. And the declaration is going to be presented by the chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, the President of the Marshall Islands to the Secretary General of the United Nations, and the declaration actually says that it will be presented as a contribution to the UN Secretary General's efforts to catalyse ambitious climate action and mobilise political will for a universal ambitious and legally binding climate change agreement by 2015.
COONEY: Now another thing that's been talked for a good 12 months if not longer is the Pacific Plan, it's faulted in many ways, it seems to have not been adopted perhaps even ignored, Sir Mekere Morauta has been out there trying to find out where it sits, and it was certainly something that he was addressing the leaders there. Is it addressed in that statement as well?
DORNEY: Well yes the leaders have recognised what they call the achievements outlined in the Pacific Plan annual progress report. And they've endorsed relevant recommendations. But also that report by Sir Mekere Morauta is actually not in its final form just yet. But certainly the Pacific Plan took up a little bit of the time, probably more yesterday when Sir Mekere addressed the leaders at the formal session. Another issue that did come up of course here in the Marshall Islands Campbell is the one on nuclear contaminants, and the leaders have welcomed the recommendation of the Special Rapporteur's report that was submitted to the UN Human Rights Council last year, and in welcoming that report, they have supported the Marshall Islands in its efforts to engage the United States towards a justified resolution of the US nuclear testing program. They're considering submitting a letter to the US government urging the US to take action to "meaningfully address the ongoing impacts resulting from the US nuclear testing program". They're also going to speak to the United Nations Secretary General to do things as well, because they said that the Marshall Islands was placed by the international community under a trusteeship of the United Nations to the United States. So both the UN and the US that they're saying has responsibility to address this issue, which the Marshall Islands is in dispute with the United States over getting more compensation for the victims of the nuclear contaminants from that nuclear testing program.

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