Remarks by the Pacific Islands Forum Chair
Hon. Mark Brown, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands
at the G7 Summit
Session 9 – Toward a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous World
21 May 2023 – 11:45am – 12:45pm – Hiroshima, Japan
Excellencies – Kia Orana.
Thank you, Prime Minister Kishida. My visit this morning to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to pay tribute to the memories of the victims of the very first nuclear attack was my very great honour.
May I acknowledge the presence of President Zelensky, and assure you Sir, we the 18 Pacific Forum Islands Countries that I represent here today stand with you and the people of Ukraine.
The Pacific IS peace.
We speak peace, we live peace, and we are proud of our legacy of peace and stability built on a bedrock of regional unity and the Pacific Way.
We are geographically isolated. It took four flights, and 30 hours of travel to be here in Hiroshima.
But despite our isolation, our peace, our security, and our stability are threatened by forces external to us.
COVID-19, global conflict, and extraordinary global inflation over the last couple of years has significantly challenged how we in the Pacific work to ensure the ongoing security and prosperity of our people.
The illegal invasion by Russia of the Ukraine has significantly increased the cost of food and energy to our people, and exacerbated supply chain difficulties.
These new challenges have compounded existing vulnerabilities in our small, isolated, and climate-exposed island nations.
Amidst this, we remain steadfast in working together with the international community, to defend international order and uphold the rule of law.
But we do so in the shadow of externally imposed security paradigms seeking to impose their will on our Blue Pacific.
One of these impositions has been the legacy of nuclear testing in the Pacific by members of the G7.
We remain concerned with the structural integrity of the Runit Dome and the potential leakage of radioactive nuclear waste.
Our position on any discharge of nuclear treated wastewater into our ocean is well established – it must be safe. Our Pacific Ocean is our food basket; it feeds our people and people the world over.
As we reflect today, here in Hiroshima, on global governance, international law, and security, we will never forget the price that we have paid, and continue to pay, as Pacific countries for the security of the global community.
Never again will we be a testing ground for nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
As a Pacific region, we have demonstrated over the years our ability to navigate the multilateral system to secure our interests and contribute meaningfully to world peace and prosperity.
The United Nations Law of the Sea was top of the agenda at the first ever meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum in 1971 and its successful adoption in international law has been vital to establishing rights over our ocean space.
In 1985, our Leaders established the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone through the Rarotonga Treaty.
And more recently, the Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the face of Climate change-related Sea-level rise reaffirms our determination to address the unique challenges posed by climate change and sea-level rise.
In July last year, Pacific Island Leaders adopted the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. This Strategy articulates our collective priorities as a region – by the Pacific, for the Pacific.
We are well aware the current narrative is that the Pacific is a hotly contested geopolitical region. That this new, and renewed commitment to working with the Pacific are in response to perceived threats by non-traditional partners.
We have said this before, and we will say this again; the Pacific has always had a “friend to all and enemy to none” existence. Because for us, in our own development context, there is no other option.
More importantly – this mindset, and way of existence, is what has ensured the peace and stability we in the Pacific have sustained for decades.
This year, the Cook Islands’ hosting of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting will be under the theme of “Our Voices, Our Choices, Our Pacific Way; Promote, Partner, Prosper”.
Let me make clear to those who consider the Pacific pawns on a geo-political chessboard.
We the Pacific welcome genuine engagement from all our partners and see this engagement as an opportunity for collaboration rather than conflict.
But this collaboration will be on our terms.
This collaboration will be guided by our Voices, our Choices, and the Pacific Way.
We invite all of you, G7 members, and your partners to work with us, and to learn from us, the Pacific, on how we can ensure the security, stability and prosperity of the Blue Pacific and humanity at large.
Kia Orana e Kia Manuia.–ENDS