Leaders agreed to:
A Pacific Vision
1 Adopt the following Vision as a guide to Forum actions and policies.
Leaders believe the Pacific region can, should and will be a region of peace, harmony, security and economic prosperity, so that all its people can lead free and worthwhile lives. We treasure the diversity of the Pacific and seek a future in which its cultures, traditions and religious beliefs are valued, honoured and developed. We seek a Pacific region that is respected for the quality of its governance, the sustainable management of its resources, the full observance of democratic values, and for its defence and promotion of human rights. We seek partnerships with our neighbours and beyond to develop our knowledge, to improve our communications and to ensure a sustainable economic existence for all.
The Pacific Plan
2 Endorse and lead the development of the Pacific Plan, intended to create stronger and deeper links between the countries of the region. The Plan should:
Assess options and provide a strategy for deeper and broader regional cooperation, taking into account the broader international environment and agreements in which Forum members participate.
Identify the sectors and issues in which the region can gain the most from sharing resources of governance and aligning policies.
Provide clear recommendations to Leaders on the sequence and priorities for intensified regional cooperation.
Be used as a springboard for stimulating debate on how to shape the region’s longer-term future.
Be carried out by a Task Force of people from within the region, managed by the Secretary General.
Be overseen in the first instance by a core group of Leaders (comprising the immediate past, current and incoming chairs and a representative of the Smaller Island States), this composition to be reviewed after each Forum.
Be started as soon as possible. The Forum Secretariat to complete an assessment of existing mechanisms and processes for regional cooperation in time for the 2004 Apia Forum, along with draft terms of reference and recommendations from the Secretary General for membership of the Task Force.
3 Develop a digital strategy for the region, based on the 1999 Communications Action Plan.
Forum tasks and themes
4 Define the key goals of the Forum as economic growth, sustainable development, good governance and security and that these goals should form the principal focus of the Forum and its Secretariat.
5 Give the greatest possible support to maintaining and increasing efforts by the Forum Secretariat to enhance the governance capabilities of Forum members and Forum-related agencies.
6 Mandate the Secretary General, in consultation with the Chair, to call a meeting of Leaders or Forum Foreign Ministers in times of crisis with a view to galvanizing regional action.
7 Endorse the proposal that the maintenance and strengthening of cultural identity be a core theme for Forum leaders.
8 Encourage closer contacts with non-sovereign Pacific territories, through progressively granting them observer status at Leaders’ meetings and associated meetings of the Forum Officials’ Committee. New criteria for participation should be developed, grounded in the region’s interests.
9 Encourage the development of national human rights machinery. This might involve engagement with the Asia Pacific Human Rights Forum.
10 Address the low participation of women in all levels of decision-making processes and structures, as well as the reduction and elimination of domestic violence, and the improvement of women’s literacy and health status.
11 Listen to the needs and aspirations of the burgeoning population of young people in the region, and recognise the impact of bigger and more youthful populations on the resources required for education and vocational training, healthcare, and job opportunities.
12 Strengthen Forum engagement with civil society. The Secretary General could be asked to discuss options for this with representatives of regional civil society. One option could be for civil society to organize a forum just prior to the Leaders’ meeting with a report conveyed to Leaders via the Secretary General.
13 Task the Secretary General with developing a Forum Secretariat communications and publicity strategy with a view to strengthening links between the Secretariat and members, and also between the Secretariat and Forum Dialogue partners and agencies, both regional and international.
14 Encourage good stewardship of existing funds by the Forum Secretariat, while recognising that the proposed Pacific Plan may impose additional financial demands.
The Leaders’ Meeting
15 Task the Secretary General or a delegate with consulting in member capitals several months prior to the annual Leaders’ meeting and developing a short Retreat agenda list.
16 Require Ministers and CROP heads to provide only written reports to Plenary sessions unless Leaders decide otherwise.
17 Retain the system of annual, alphabetical rotational Leaders’ meetings in member countries, with the option of hosting them at the Form Secretariat headquarters in Suva if requested by the host country.
The Role of the Chair
18 Assist the Chair to play a proactive role in taking a strong regional leadership role, in respect of agreed Forum responsibilities and positions, including on the international stage. The country acting as Forum Chair to be responsible for organising a caucus before major international meetings to assess common ground among Forum countries.
19 Authorise Secretariat support for the Chair, as and when requested.
The Post-Forum Dialogue
20 Maintain and build on the 2003 precedent of a post-Forum briefing of Dialogue Partners by the Chair.
21 Revise the panel system to ensure that panelists are able to concentrate exclusively on the Dialogue process. Panel members should be chosen – on the basis of recommendations from the Secretary General to the Chair– from among Forum Ministers.
The Forum Officials Committee
22 Mandate Forum Ministerial meetings with decision-making power on all issues except those where Ministers determine that a decision by Leaders is required. Leaders would of course retain the right to reconsider issues.
23 Set a date for the main FOC meeting that is about three weeks before the Leaders’ gathering rather than just a few days before as at present.
24 Keep in mind the option of holding the main FOC meeting in Suva, unless the incoming Chair urges that it be held in the Forum host country.
25 Bring forward the budget-setting FOC meeting so that resources can be better aligned with tasks set by Leaders.
The Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific
26 Task the Secretary General, in consultation with CROP heads, with ascertaining whether a redrafting of the CROP Charter would help to define more clearly the relationships between CROP agencies, the Forum Secretariat and the Secretary General. The aim of any change would be to ensure that the most effective use is made of the scarce resources of the region.
The Forum Secretariat
27 Authorise the early appointment of a second Deputy Secretary General to improve the capacity of the Secretariat and enable the Secretary General to take up a more proactive regional role in support of the Chair.
28 Appoint a working group of Forum members to draft a new Agreement that updates and clearly sets down the role, functions and responsibilities of the Secretariat. In particular, the document should emphasise that the primary roles of the Secretariat are policy advice, coordination and assistance in implementing Leaders’ decisions, rather than the project implementation and technical assistance functions that it has acquired over the years.
29 Task the Secretary General with developing a corporate plan that identifies the resources and structure necessary to carry out the functions of the Secretariat, as well as ensuring that the Secretariat has effective budget, performance management and corporate planning systems.
30 Task the Secretary General with ensuring that the considerable needs of Small Island members are mainstreamed into all levels of Secretariat work.
31 Enforce the provision that Secretariat executive/professional staff be hired for no more than two three-year terms of employment at the Secretariat, so that people with skills developed at the Secretariat can use these skills in the service of their home countries. It may be necessary to offer the Secretary General a transition period in which to apply this provision to current staff.
The Secretary General
32 Encourage the Secretary General to take a proactive role in setting Forum agendas and coordinating responses by members to regional events, particularly crises. Such action would need to be taken in close consultation with the Chair and within limits set by Leaders.
Forum Smaller Island States Sub-Group
33 Warmly encourage the Republic of Palau to consider becoming a member of the Smaller Island States sub-group of the Forum at an early opportunity.