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Opening remarks by SG Tuiloma Neroni Slade at opening of 2012 FRSC meeting

FORUM REGIONAL SECURITY COMMITTEE MEETING
FORUM SECRETARIAT
SUVA, FIJI 6 June 2011

OPENING ADDRESS BY
SECRETARY GENERAL TUILOMA NERONI SLADE


Madame Chairperson,
Your Excellencies,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
CROP and development partners
Distinguished representatives,
Colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. On behalf of the Forum Secretariat, I extend to you all a warm welcome to this meeting of the Forum Regional Security Committee (FRSC). Allow me also to express our hearty congratulations to you, Madame Ambassador, on your assuming the Chair of our Committee.

2. The agenda of this Committee’s work has evolved and expanded considerably over the years to keep up with the changing environment and circumstances of our region. Where traditionally the FRSC had discussed and considered security issues relating to protecting national borders from external threats, the ever changing scope and nature of threats to national security these days mean that we also now have to contend with threats caused by economic and environmental decline, corruption, unemployment, and even widespread diseases. All this gives perspective to the important responsibility that lies with you in the conduct and outcomes of this meeting.

Transnational Crime and Counter Terrorism

3. Transnational crime continues to be a human and economic security threat and remains a high priority for law enforcement agencies. Recent statistics based on information compiled by regional law enforcement agencies indicate that the region is being actively targeted as a transit route for the trafficking of arms, people and illicit drugs. I note and commend efforts by national and regional law enforcement agencies to combat transnational organised crime through coordinated activities, including through the sharing of information and best practices.

4. While the threat of terrorist activity in our region may be considered low, it does not mean that is it does not exist. Members of our regional family have suffered losses to terrorist attacks, and in some cases continue to be targeted by terrorist groups. We should continue to explore initiatives with our development partners, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, to support national efforts by Members to address potential terrorist threats and also meet international obligations.

 


Cybercrime

5. With improved development and access to information technology and communications comes an additional challenge and worry to our member countries in the form of cybercrime. The vulnerability of Forum Countries to cybercrime arises from a number of factors, including the technical complexity of cybercrimes, the sophisticated nature of electronics, lack of or inadequate legislation to monitor cybercrime activities, and the high level of skills and expertise required to investigate and prosecute cybercrime.

6. Cyber crime is no longer about those who seek access computer systems for fun or simply to prove it can be done. The threat is constantly evolving as new opportunities to commit ‘old’ crimes in new ways are being developed – the most horrendous of these crimes are organised ones, seeking to take advantage of those using internet services for financial gain, or as threats to the most vulnerable members of our society who much all too often the victims – children, young people and increasingly the elderly.

7. Addressing issues of cybercrime involves a multifaceted approach, including legislative, technical, training, and awareness-raising measures. The range of anti-cybercrime initiatives and activities in existence in our region today, particularly with respect to legislative reform, underscores the importance of this issue to Members States, regional law enforcement Secretariats and development partners.

Arms Trade Treaty

8. An important issue you will discuss today is the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which will hopefully be finalised later this year. In the course of your discussion, you will be asked to consider a common Forum position on the ATT. Presenting a unified voice on matters of international security is not unusual for the Forum, and in respect of this crucial matter or arms trade, it is in our interest to have a common regional voice and position, particularly on the world stage.

9. As one of the key security issues considered by Leaders at their meeting in Auckland last September, the upcoming ATT negotiations presents an important opportunity for the Forum to raise our concerns about the threats posed to our communities by the illicit and irresponsible trade of small arms and light weapons, and to contribute to international efforts to address these threats. I have no doubt that the FRSC will accord this issue careful deliberation and attention.

UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (UN PoA)

10. Similarly, you will need also to consider several priority areas for the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (UN PoA). You will also be invited to discuss the preparation of a joint statement to be presented at the UN PoA Review Conference in August this year regarding activities undertaken in the region to implement the UN PoA since the previous review conference of 2006.

Security Sector Governance

11. Security sector is a critical component of any security architecture. Comprising frontline law enforcement agencies, it is imperative that this sector operates like a well-oiled machine to protect state interests and its citizens, and address threats to human security.

12. The effective governance of security and law enforcement institutions in the Pacific is a vital issue for all Members. Military, police, immigration and customs institutions must be aware of their roles and responsibilities to uphold the rule of law, and be subject to appropriate governance processes and democratic oversight mechanisms. I thank the UNDP for its work in conjunction with the Forum Secretariat, in this area.

Human rights

13. In keeping with our Leaders’ Vision, the Forum Secretariat continues to work on the promotion and defence of human rights, including through the provision of advice and support to Members with their reporting obligations under the Universal Periodic Review.

14. I am very pleased to advise that the European Union has conveyed the first tranche of a one million euro grant to the Secretariat to support the ratification of core human rights treaties and the Rome Statute. This will enable the Secretariat to provide more in-depth support to members with meeting their human rights reporting obligations.

Conflict Prevention and Human Security

15. I am pleased to note that the Secretariat will table a draft Human Security Framework for the consideration of this Committee. The aim of the Framework is to provide strategic guidance to Forum Members, the Secretariat and other stakeholders for improving understanding, planning and implementation of human security approaches in stand-alone and broader peace, security and development initiatives.

16. You will note that the Framework does not dictate what actions must be taken but provides guidance on principles, including suggested types of interventions to consider in a given situation.

United Nations Convention Against Corruption

17. I am pleased to note that to date seven Forum Island Countries have signed the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), with one country, Palau, having completed its UNCAC assessment report.

18. The assessment report will be used to review States Parties’ compliance to the Convention and form the basis for future technical assistance to Member States. I understand that an upcoming meeting of the Implementation Review Group of UNCAC will determine when each State Party will be peer-reviewed so that appropriate planning can be made towards completing their respective assessment reports. I encourage Member countries’ attention to this important meeting.

Activities under the Biketawa Declaration

19. The 6th meeting of the Forum Ministerial Standing Committee on RAMSI was held a few weeks ago on 18 May in Honiara. Ministers discussed matters relating to the implementation of the SIG-RAMSI Partnership Framework, the 2011 RAMSI Annual Performance Report and RAMSI’s transition and drawdown.

20. Significant progress has been made by both the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI in implementing the Partnership Framework, which include a strong economic performance in 2011, and improved confidence and capability of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force’s ability to deliver services directly and effectively. I should also note that ongoing and constructive discussions have and are being held with regard to the transition and drawdown of RAMSI. Reflecting on the collaborative working relationship between the Solomon Islands and RAMSI, Ministers at their meeting noted the call by the Solomon Islands Government that the transition of RAMSI must be task-bound, and not time bound, and that the pace of transition across the various sectors of government must be done in close consultation with the Government.

21. On your behalf, allow me to express to the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI warm congratulations on significant progress made in the development of relations, and particularly in the implementation of the SIG-RAMSI Partnership Framework.

22. With respect to the situation in Fiji, I am pleased to advice that the Forum Ministerial Contact Group on Fiji visited Suva on 1 May 2012. During its visit, the Group met with Fijian politicians and government officials, as well as representatives of civil society and unions, and welcomed their perspectives on the developments in Fiji which contributed to the Ministerial Contact Group further and fuller understanding of the situation in Fiji. As you will be aware, this was the first time that the Ministerial Contact Group was able to visit Fiji since the implementation of targeted measures in May 2009, and is considered to be a positive step forward in Forum-Fiji relations.

23. The Ministerial Contact Group will provide a report of its visit for Leaders’ consideration in Rarotonga in August.

Conclusion

24. I cannot underscore enough the importance of the work of this Committee. Time and experience has shown us that in the absence of a stable and secured environment, the effective functioning and well-being of our societies, including economic growth and development, is simply not possible. Our collective experience also points to certain security challenges that are better addressed cooperatively, and I take this opportunity to acknowledge the immense contribution of our civil society partners to peace building, conflict prevention, and the promotion and protection of human rights.

25. This Committee shoulders some very important responsibilities for the region’s security - the onus is on you to coordinate national and regional security initiatives, and to minimise and eventually close those gaps in regional law enforcement that criminals exploit. I assure you of this Secretariat’s ready assistance and support in this regard, in close partnership with our regional law enforcement agencies and development partners, including civil society organisations.

26. With all this said, it remains for me to wish this Committee every success in your deliberations. We have a full agenda before us and under your leadership, Madam Chairperson, we have every reason to look forward to firm and positive results.

27. Thank you.

 



 

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