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SG Tuiloma Neroni Slade's opening statement at FRSC 20th meeting

FORUM REGIONAL SECURITY COMMITTEE MEETING
Forum Secretariat, Suva, Fiji
3 – 4 June 2010

OPENING ADDRESS BY MR TUILOMA NERONI SLADE
SECRETARY GENERAL
PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT


 

 

 

Mr. Chairperson,
Excellencies,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


On behalf of the Secretariat I extend to you all a very warm welcome. This meeting of the Forum Regional Security Committee (FRSC) is the twentieth and therefore a significant milestone for what is now the principal forum of security experts responsible for developing and implementing our regional security agenda.

Allow me to express our warmest congratulations to you, Mr Chairman.

Year on year, our Pacific communities continue to be confronted by external forces and emerging challenges that directly threaten prospects for regional and human security, law and order, and peace and stability. A myriad of serious cross-border and trans-national crimes, compounded by devastating impacts of the global financial and economic crises, including climate change and natural disasters, add to complications and challenges for our region.

But we are a region of resilience and one firmly committed to our Leaders’ vision for a peaceful, secure and prosperous Pacific. We must persevere in our efforts to adopt forward thinking and progressive approaches to addressing challenges that will always test and expand the agenda of this Committee.

Transnational Crime and Counter Terrorism

Our region continues to face complex law enforcement challenges with the continuing presence, and reporting, of a wide range of transnational criminal activities. These often include money laundering, human trafficking, commercial fraud, drugs and precursor trafficking, which are destabilising forces to national and regional stability. The continued existence and support therefore for effective national law enforcement agencies, supported by modern domestic legislation, enhanced law enforcement capacity, strengthened regional cooperation and political motivation, are simply imperative and must remain a priority to Forum members to be able to respond to threats posed by transnational crimes.

This year’s annual Pacific Transnational Crime Assessment (PTCA), which is a joint effort of the Forum Secretariat’s Political Governance and Security programme and specialist regional law enforcement agencies and Secretariats, highlights that all Pacific communities remain vulnerable to the threat of transnational crime.

Information Management and Cooperation

With respect to information management and cooperation, it has long been recognised that one of the biggest impediments to effective law enforcement is the lack of communication and collaboration between law enforcement agencies. Rapid advances in technology and communication coupled with the exponential growth of global trade, travellers and tourism has meant that law enforcement agencies can no longer combat organised criminal groups and transnational criminal activity in isolation.

In response to calls for better and stronger collaboration among law enforcement agencies at both domestic and regional levels, the Working Group for Strengthening Information Management was recently established to address this need. The Working Group includes a number of key domestic agencies and regional stakeholders represented here today, and will be crucial in developing initiatives to advance inter-agency cooperation. You may recall that the Working Group was meant to have provided at your meeting today a report for this year. Regrettably, unanticipated circumstances and recognition of the need for a comprehensive stock take of current structures, constraints and needs in the region has meant a delay in the finalisation and provision of this Report.

Small arms and light weapons (SALW)

In response to concerns raised by the Committee last year regarding the prevalence of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in the Pacific region, the Secretariat has prepared for your consideration the following:
• first, the possible endorsement of the Draft Regional Guidelines for the Implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on SALW;
• secondly, the Control of Ammunition Project, a regional resource tool kit developed by the Secretariat which aims to provide measures to control the distribution of ammunition, storage and destruction of ammunition; and
• thirdly, the revised model weapons bill to include issues on brokering.

We look forward to constructive discussions on these initiatives by this Committee.

Security Sector Governance

On security sector governance, we are pleased to note that the joint UNDP and PIFS Publication entitled Enhancing Security Sector Governance in the Pacific Region: A Strategic Framework was launched in Honiara on 10 February this year. This is the first publication of its kind in the region, and it is intended to support regional and national stakeholders in their efforts to develop appropriate policies and programming to promote good practices in security sector oversight. Ongoing SSG work is being undertaken to support the development of National Security Sector Plans for members that have identified these initiatives as a domestic priority.

Counter terrorism

Counter terrorism remains a high priority. Failure to act invites the risk of our region becoming the weak link in global efforts against terrorist activities, and the even more serious and ever present risk of our region becoming the focus of these unwelcomed activities.

Fighting terrorism cannot be separated from the task of preventing organised crime, or of tackling the spread of small arms and other weapons, or containing and ending conflict. We must remain vigilant in ensuing that conditions that give rise to ignorance, hatred, violence and extremism are properly and effectively addressed.

Legislative requirements for security related Declarations

There is also high priority in legislative requirements to provide the legal basis and support for security related Declarations. Many of our member countries have taken positive steps to deal with the availability and use of illegal weapons by passing laws that provide strict controls on the use of such weapons.

The growing incidences of sexual gender based violence (SGBV) in the region continue to pose real threats to the fundamental unit of society – the family. Qualitative studies on sexual gender based violence have been undertaken in countries like the Kiribati and the Solomon Islands, to better understand and assess the root causes of these violent acts.

The development of a Sexual Offences Regional Model Law is aimed to target perpetrators of heinous crimes, such as sexual assault or sexual violence against children, by imposing harsh penalties and through other provisions to ensure fair trails and empowering victims of sexual offences.

Governance

The focus of the governance work of the Secretariat has been on transparency, leadership, and anti-corruption, as well as on discussions with partners on the prospects for developing sustainable, tangible appropriate regional programs to support the governance effort of Forum Island Countries. On building leadership, the Secretariat provided support to the Pacific Leadership Foundation through chairing of the 2010 Emerging Pacific Leaders’ Dialogue that took place early this year in Apia.

The Secretariat has also completed its research on the application of the Forum Principles of Good Leadership in Forum Member Countries. The results of this research will be published soon.

Towards promoting transparency, the Secretariat recently sent observer teams to the general elections in Nauru, and in Bougainville.

The Secretariat is currently assisting Palau to examine its laws, policies and regulations to assess its compliance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). Once this is completed, the information gathered will help Palau complete its self-assessment exercise and identify gaps that require attention in its efforts to strengthen its anti-corruption regime.

Human rights

Economic development, including security, peace and justice cannot be fully realised without human rights. The interdependence between stable governance, human rights and economic growth is undeniable - political and civil rights cannot be advanced without respect for economic, social and cultural rights.

We welcome the proposal by the European Union to assist Pacific Island countries ratify and report on core human rights treaties and covenants, including the Rome Statute for the ICC. We look forward to working with the European Union in this regard, not least given that rratification requires governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and ordinary citizens to regularly take stock of the level of human rights observance in their country, measured against universal standards, as a means of both monitoring progress and reflecting on improvements needed.

Solomon Islands

Allow me to express to the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) and RAMSI warm congratulations on significant progress made in the development of relations, and particularly in the implementation of the SIG-RAMSI Partnership Framework. I also offer a warm welcome to the Papua New Guinea delegation, noting that Papua New Guinea attended the recent meeting of the Forum Ministerial Standing Committee (FMSC) Honiara for the first time as a permanent member of the FMSC.

The RAMSI is a unique, and thus far, highly effective regional arrangement of its kind pertaining to management of a crisis. Its’ success under the Biketawa Declaration continues to draw on the support of all Forum member countries, and remains an outstanding demonstration of what can be achieved through committed and well calibrated regional cooperation in times of crisis.

Fiji

While the Fiji situation remains a great concern to all Forum members, there are ongoing efforts at both the bilateral and regional levels to mount initiatives for engagement and dialogue with Fiji. Members will know already that the Forum Ministerial Contact Group on Fiji met in Auckland on Monday, 31 May 2010. The report of their meeting will be prepared and submitted to Leaders for their consideration shortly.

Conclusion

As the Secretariat has done on many occasions, we would encourage the Committee to take ownership of the implementation of your decisions at both national and regional level, and offer to you the continuing support of the Secretariat in close cooperation with regional law enforcement bodies, and other relevant regional and international stakeholders.

We must respond collectively and promptly to a host of challenges where collective responses serve to provide commitment and strength. No one country can feasibly manage alone in today’s world, where peace and security at the regional level are so and inextricably linked to peace and stability in our respective member countries.

Allow me again to wish you every success in your deliberations, and we look forward to firm and positive results.


Thank you.


 

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