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PIF Chair, Regarding West Papua Issue : I have Written to H.E Mr Joko Widodo



Flags of PIF countries - Supplied

Flags of PIF countries – Supplied

Jayapura, Jubi – Statement by the Pacific Islands Forum Chair, Hon. Peter O’Neill: Update on the Implementation of Regional Priorities



In September 2015 Pacific Island Forum Leaders met in Port Moresby. A key aspect of that meeting was consideration of five regional priorities that were identified through the Framework for Pacific Regionalism. These priorities reflect a range of important issues facing the region: fisheries, climate change, information and communications technology (ICT), cervical cancer, and allegations of human rights abuse. Since the conclusion of the Leaders’ Meeting, the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP), sub-regional organisations such as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, civil society and the private sector have been working together to begin implementing the Leaders’ recommendations around these issues. It is worth reiterating that Forum Members, and particularly relevant sectoral agencies at the national level, are crucial to the continued successful implementation of these priorities. I would like to give you an update on the status of each priority.


The fisheries priority consists of two aspects: increasing sustainable economic returns on fisheries, and evaluating the current monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) arrangements in the Pacific. Leaders also endorsed the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries.

The first step in progressing this priority has been the establishment of a multi-agency fisheries taskforce. This taskforce, which held its first meeting of Officials at the Forum Secretariat on 22 January, consists of the Forum Fisheries Agency, the Pacific Community, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. This meeting gave participating agencies the opportunity to discuss existing and new measures to increase sustainable economic returns on fisheries and look at current reviews of MCS arrangements in the Pacific. A meeting of Chief Executive Officers of the taskforce agencies is being planned for February 2016, to provide high level oversight of this work. It is envisaged that a programme for tangibly and sustainably increasing economic returns of fisheries over the next five years will be presented for Forum Leaders’ endorsement in 2016.

The fisheries taskforce will provide updates to the relevant Ministerial meetings, including Forum Foreign, Fisheries and Economic Ministers meetings, to allow Ministers to provide guidance and advice on this priority.

Climate Change

I am very pleased to report a successful outcome has been reached against the regional priority on climate change, with Forum Leaders’ call for the “adoption of an ambitious and legally binding agreement” at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) having been achieved through the development and ratification of a post-2020 negotiated outcome called the ‘Paris Agreement’.

The Paris Agreement includes several important elements that Forum Leaders called for in their Declaration on Climate Change Action , including (a) pursuing efforts to limit temperature increase to a 1.5 degrees (Article 2); (b) a separate and standalone article on Loss and Damage (Article 8); and (c) simplified and scaled-up access to finance for SIDS (Article 9) that are specifically vulnerable to the adverse effects and have significant capacity constraints. These three issues in particular represented the core calls of Pacific island countries in the negotiations.

To implement the decision to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been tasked to produce a report on the feasibility and implications of achieving a 1.5 degree target by 2018. This will be further supported by 5-year review cycles to assess where the world is heading in terms of the temperature goal and opportunities to revise national commitments.

In light of Forum Leaders’ decision to extend the two current regional frameworks on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management for one year, the draft Strategy for Climate and Resilient Development in the Pacific will be revised using a country driven process that will incorporate concerns raised on some aspects of the framework.


The priority initiative pertaining to information and communication technology (ICT) asks for an assessment of the merits in establishing a regional ICT Advisory Council. This assessment is being led by the University of the South Pacific with support from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Crucial stakeholders in this area including the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank are contributing to the analysis around ICT priority issues, and the CROP ICT Working Group will provide high level guidance to the assessment. The inclusion of a broad group of stakeholders allows for a considered and well informed response to Forum Leaders’ acknowledgment of the numerous challenges that exist in realising the benefits of ICT in the region. The recommendations of this assessment will be presented to Leaders in 2016.

Cervical Cancer

In response to the Forum Leaders’ decision on cervical cancer, the Pacific Community, which is mandated to work on regional health issues, is coordinating a study on the feasibility of carrying out a regional programme to address cervical cancer. This study will weigh the benefits of resourcing and conducting a regional program addressing cervical cancer, in light of the current prioritisation of addressing non-communicable diseases across the region. With guidance from the CROP Health & Population Working Group, the study will be conducted in the first half of 2016. Key recommendations will then be presented to Forum Leaders in 2016.

West Papua

As agreed by Forum Leaders, I have written to H.E Mr Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia conveying the PIF Leaders views on the human rights allegations and expressed the desire of the PIF to consult on a fact finding mission to discuss the situation in Papua with the parties involved. This was conveyed early this year and I am awaiting a response from Jakarta.





Source : PIF Secretariat

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ULMWP appeals to PIF for support on West Papua issue at UN




United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) leaders (L to R), Octovianus Mote, Benny Wenda and Rex Rex Rumakiek – Jubi

“There are two topics in the West Papuan struggle; one — Pacific leaders facing natural disasters and two – we in West Papua are facing genocide in our country.

“In addition West Papua is also saving the planet because as the second largest rain forest after the Amazon, we simply say politically, West Papua is the lung of the world and by saving it; we are also saving the world. Who knows what is going to happen in one hundred years’ time because the islands are sinking. West Papua can become the home of the Pacific (people) during sea level rise. I always tell Pacific leaders that when you save West Papua, you save the Pacific. When Vanuatu presents the West Papua Case to PIF, it is our prayer that other Pacific leaders will also support Vanuatu to take West Papua to the UN Decolonisation Committee”.

That is the message of the Chairman of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), Benny Wenda, to the Pacific Islands Forum’s 49th Session at Nauru this week.

Member of Parliament for Ambrym Albert William says what Father Walter Lini said about West Papua is true that Vanuatu must continue to support freedom for West Papua.

“Now the issue of climate change has reached critical stage in West Papua and especially seeing what is happening in nearby Australia now. The signs are there. It is visible, you can feel it, you can see it. The Great Barrier Reef is facing a lot of stress from the negative excessive impact of development. It is a threat to all the reefs of the islands. When there is no reef, there is no fish and there is no food for humanity. The Australian Government has no other way but to step in to help farmers who are facing drought now”.

That is the view of MP William, a former Director of the Department of Environment of the Vanuatu Government.

He entered the Grand Hotel to join members of the ULMWP Executive as it finalised its stand ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum 49th Meeting in Nauru, where climate change is one of the prominent issues on the agenda.

Speaking for Geobjects, an organization that has developed a software to help Governments to better manage their environments while the Governments are allowing private companies and international conglomerates to exploit natural resources like what the American company is doing mining mineral resources in the second largest open cast mine in the world at Free Port Mine in West Papua, Geobjects Global Operations Manager Paul Montague of Australia says the advantage of the software is that it shows all the impacts of such giant or minimum developments and also predicts what is going to happen in the future.

Montagne says the software was developed to help Governments in Africa, Asia and the Pacific to better equip themselves in the way they allow their natural resources to be exploited.

Asked how a member country of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) can have access to the software, Montagne explains, “We would go into the countries that are interested in our product and sit down with them and try and establish a base line.

Asked if a PIF country has shown interest in the software, Montagne says countries further afield including Nigeria and Chana in Africa and the African Union have shown interests in the software.

While on the subject of Africa, he says the challenges facing Africa are similar to West Papua where foreign companies set up to reap the benefits from the countries’ natural resources while on the long run, leaving behind environmental damages difficult to correct.

Chairman of Liberation Movement of West Papua Benny Wenda says his country has become a regional issue and cannot go away from the PIF. “So far Vanuatu has been the only country to talk about the plight of West Papua but now we need more leaders from the Pacific to take up the West Papua issue. For example the PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neil has already stated that West Papua has to be taken back to the UN and so the Pacific has to be duty bound to take the case to the UN”, Wenda says.

“We are not asking the Pacific to invade Indonesia, we are asking them to sit down and discuss the issue as to whether the UN or Indonesia is right or wrong. We have to revisit the West Papua Issue. As members of the UN, Pacific leaders have a moral obligation to bring this case to the UN.

The human rights issues in West Papua are getting worse and worse. Last month in August, 49 West Papuan students were arrested across West Papua; killings and rapes by Indonesian soldiers are happening. Even last month in Dunga, there were displacement of Melanesians and human atrocities but nobody was there to report on the issues while Indonesia is assuring Melanesians, Polynesian and Micronesians that they are the good guys promoting democracy in the islands. But you cannot bring development on top of suffering. (*)

By Len Garae for Vanuatu Daily.

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PIANGO wants Pacific leaders to commit over West Papua




Since the latter part of 2017, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have intensified hostilities with Indonesia’s military and police in Tembagapura and its surrounding region in Papua’s Highlands. Photo: RNZ / Suara Wiyaima

Pasific, Jubi – Pacific Island civil society says the Pacific Island Forum leaders must support Vanuatu’s effort to take the issue of West Papua to the UN.

The executive director of the civil society umbrella group, PIANGO, or the Pacific Islands Association of Non Government Organisations, Emele Duituturaga, said they continue to be concerned with ongoing human rights violations in Indonesia’s Papuan provinces.

Ms Duituturaga said the issue of West Papua has been on the leaders agenda for decades without evident progress.

She said PIANGO had raised its concerns over the last two years, but nothing had changed.

Her organisation has called for a UN Special Rapporteur on West Papua to investigate continued human rights violations; support for a UN General Assembly Resolution to include West Papua on the UN Decolonisation List; and scrutiny of development co-operation with Indonesia and participation in the Pacific Island Forum.

Selected people representing civil society will meet with Pacific leaders next week at the leaders’ summit in Nauru. (*)



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What Drives Indonesia’s Pacific Island Strategy?




Jakarta is courting Pacific Island states, hoping to change regional positions on the West Papua issue. -Image Credit: Flickr / Ahmad Syauki

 By Grant Wyeth

Indonesia has recently been lifting its presence in the Pacific, courting a number of Pacific Island countries in an attempt to quell the region’s sympathies for the independence movement in the Indonesian province of West Papua.

A particular recent focus has been on boosting relations with a number of Micronesian states as a way of gaining influence in the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). In July, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) visited Jakarta, holding talks with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. Indonesia also has instigated plans to open a consulate in the FSM. Previously, Indonesian consular services in the region were run out of its Tokyo embassy. In February, an Indonesian cabinet minister was dispatched to Nauru for the tiny island’s 50th anniversary of independence, bringing with him a Papuan band. Both Nauru and Tuvalu have recently expressed support for Jakarta’s regional development programs in West Papua.

Beyond Micronesia, in April a delegation from the Melanesian state of Solomon Islands was invited to tour Indonesia’s West Papua and Papua provinces, which seems to have led to a review of Solomon Islands policy toward West Papua. Shifts in position toward the Indonesian province from Nauru, Tuvalu, and potentially Solomon Islands would be considered a significant victory for Jakarta, which previously accused these countries of “misusing” their platforms at the United Nations General Assembly to be critical of Indonesia’s policies in West Papua.

This increased Indonesian outreach comes during the ongoing deliberation over the application of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua to become a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), an issue that seems to have divided the organization. In late-July the Director-General of the MSG stated that discussions on the situation in West Papua don’t belong in the forum. However, last week Vanuatu appointed a special envoy to the restive province.

Vanuautu remains the most staunch supporter of the West Papuan independence movement, and it is a sentiment held strongly by both political elites and civil society within the country. Former Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman, who was a driving force behind Indonesia gaining observer status to the MSG, was forced to resign from office in 2013 partly due to a public suspicion that he was too close to Indonesia. The then-incoming prime minister swiftly cancelled a defense agreement with Indonesia, which had Jakarta providing equipment and assistance to the Vanuatu police.

In 2013, with Fiji suspended from the Pacific Island Forum (PIF), Fiji’s then-military dictator, Frank Bainimarama sought to set up the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) as a competitor to the PIF. At the following year’s forum then-Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) paid a three day visit to Fiji and delivered a keynote address to the PIDF, pledging $20 million over five years to climate change and natural disaster-proofing initiatives. Since then, Fiji’s opposition Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) has claimed Indonesia has given military support to Fiji in exchange for support for West Papua, and for Indonesia’s observer status in the MSG. The relationship between Fiji and Indonesia seems to be seen by Bainimarama has a potential bridge for Fiji into Asia, by-passing Australia, and for Indonesia, as a way to gain the support of one of the region’s more powerful actors.

The issue continues to create complexity within the Pacific’s Melanesian states. Recently Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has advocated the issue of West Papuan independence be taken to the United Nations decolonization committee. However, the land border that PNG shares with Indonesia has constrained its ability to forcefully advocate for the West Papuan cause. And PNG’s own secessionist movement in Bougainville also requires Port Moresby to tread carefully for fear of reciprocal interference in its own affairs. (*)



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