The 1985 Forum in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.
PIFS Suva, 7 August, 2020 – Yesterday marked the 35th Anniversary of a significant event in the history of the Pacific Islands Forum – the adoption of the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty by Forum Leaders at their 16th Forum Meeting held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands (5 – 6 August 1985).
“The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty was a significant milestone, showing the Forum’s resolve to safeguard the bounty and the beauty of the Blue Pacific. Following a long history of nuclear testing by nuclear weapon states, in our region, this Treaty drew a line in the sand, and showed our commitment to protect our environment for future generations,” said the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor.
“The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty is a testament to the power of regional solidarity. It shows that collective regional action can help influence and shape action on important global issues, and in this context, the international commitment to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and commitment to world peace”, continued the Secretary General.
In declaring the world’s second nuclear weapons free zone in a permanently inhabited area, the Forum observed in 1985, that the endorsement of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty reflected the deep concern of all Forum Members at the continuing nuclear arms race and the risk of nuclear war, not only for the people of the Blue Pacific, but for all of humanity.
Unfortunately, those concerns remain largely unresolved today, 35 years later. Shifting global and regional geopolitics are creating a heightened sense of uncertainty. Modern weapons and the continued proliferation by certain countries, in some cases in clear derogation of their international obligations, continue to pose a significant threat to the peace and security of the globe. These threats exacerbate many of the vulnerabilities we already face in our region, and in all its facets – our people, our homes, and the health and resilience of our Ocean and its resources. The ongoing impacts of the past nuclear testing programmes in the Pacific, including impacts on health, human rights, and the environment, continue to be felt across our region.
At their most recent Meeting in Tuvalu, in 2019, Forum Leaders remained concerned about the impact of nuclear contamination on the health and security of the Blue Pacific, acknowledged the importance of addressing the long-standing issues of nuclear testing legacy in the Pacific, and called for the operationalisation of the provisions of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty.
The Forum Secretariat continues to support States Parties to the Treaty in ensuring adherence to and implementation of the Treaty. The Secretariat also supports a CROP Taskforce on Nuclear Legacy Issues in the Pacific to deliver on Leaders’ decisions on nuclear legacy issues.
The full text of the Treaty and its Protocols, and other related information, can be found here.
Lisa Williams -Lahari
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Communications & Public Affairs
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat