Senior public servants from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Solomon Islands.
Private security companies’ representatives from Papua New Guinea Samoa and Solomon Islands. Representatives of civil society organisations. The United Development Programme.
Academics from the Australian National University, Massey University and Canterbury University.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Headquarters of the Pacific Islands Forum.
I convey the apologies of our Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor, for not being here to address you personally. She is on duty travel, but wishes you a successful workshop.
Given the increased prominence of private security companies in Forum Island Countries, this workshop is timely.
As you entered the Secretariat, you would have seen our use and dependence on private security. Across the region private security companies are ever-present that we hardly pause to think about the role they play in our societies – usually not until we need their services. Sometimes they are the first responders.
Private security companies have become indispensable in protecting commerce, homes and public events freeing up law enforcement agencies to concentrate on their key roles, as required by law. Globally they are a growing industry, particularly in developing countries.
I understand that it is proposed that this workshop consider a regional approach to the issues surrounding private security companies. This complements the Secretariat’s principal mandate of pursuing the vision set by our Leaders for a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity to allow our people to lead free, healthy and productive lives.
Most recently this vision was reinforced by Forum Leaders in 2014 when they endorsed the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, the overarching framework for the Secretariat’s work.
Security Sector Governance – Human Security Framework
To pursue this vision, the Secretariat has been part of a number of important regional security initiatives including the Strategic Framework for enhancing Security Sector Governance in the Pacific Region, and the Human Security Framework of the Pacific, both of which fall within the confines of this workshop.
In collaboration with UNDP, the Strategic Framework for Security Sector Governance was developed following the conflicts in Solomon Islands, Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, social unrest and riots in Tonga and Vanuatu, and the political crises caused by military and civilian coups here.
While the Security Sector Governance Framework focused primarily on State institutions, all security institutions have the responsibility to support human rights. In the global context this is recognised through the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Montreux Document – important reference points for your work today.
The Secretariat developed the Human Security Framework to provide a clear common foundation and strategic guidance to Forum Island Countries and stakeholders for improving the understanding, planning and implementation of human security approaches in stand-alone and broader peace, security and development initiatives for the region.
The Human Security Framework provided a common language and sound basis for discussions, planning and carrying out of human security initiatives, and to facilitate greater cooperation to strengthen them. It is also a tool for communicating to partners and governments inside and outside the region what the common understanding of human security is by Forum member countries.
There is also a human element to this industry, in particular, the thousands of our citizens who depend on private security companies for their livelihoods. Recognition and protection of those engaged in this sector must be provided for. Recently, the Fiji Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations ordered an investigation into alleged underpayment of security workers, estimated at over two million dollars.
I want to thank UNDP for partnering with us to co-fund this event, as well as colleagues from ANU and Massey University for providing the academic rigour to the workshop. The Secretariat supports strong evidence based policy making.
Just as importantly, I want to acknowledge and thank participants from Member countries for attending. The success of this workshop hinges on your participation.
As this is the first such workshop on private security for the region, you have the unique opportunity to influence regional policy and to contribute to the vision set by our Leaders. This is an exciting start on which we can build on, including the legislative efforts already taken by Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.
In closing, I encourage you all to speak freely and frankly in an atmosphere of mutual respect. I look forward very much to receiving the Outcomes from your deliberations.
I wish you fruitful discussions and a successful workshop. Thank you.