Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill’s Leaders Statement to President Barack Obama and the Government of the United States of America 10th Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders

Hawai’i

31 August 2016

 

Enhancing Sustainability in Our Pacific Islands – Collective Action for Our Shared Future

We, the elected Leaders and representatives of Pacific Islands Governments and Administrations present at the 10th Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders, gathered in Honolulu, Hawai’i on 31 August 2016:

Welcome the foreign policy rebalance by the Obama Administration towards the Asia Pacific, and encourage the Government of the United States of America (US) to continue to enhance its relationship and engagement with the Pacific islands region in the spirit of partnership.

Acknowledge the contribution of the East West Center and Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP) in facilitating the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders (PICL) since 1985, and commend them for their effective advocacy in raising awareness of Pacific issues with successive US Administrations since then. In light of the new Framework for Pacific Regionalism, we propose to re-examine and re-invigorate the PICL and PIDP, aimed at strengthening the focus on facilitating awareness of Pacific issues with the US going forward.

Reaffirm our commitment to working in partnership and cooperation between the US Government and the Pacific islands region. We acknowledge the important contribution of the triennial PICL process, and the annual Pacific Islands Forum Post-Forum Dialogue, as well as shared membership of regional organisations, including the Pacific Community and the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, as vehicles for enhancing the understanding between the Pacific and the US based on mutual respect and responsibility.

We seek to jointly articulate a framework for development cooperation with the US Government, including a global response to climate change, oceans and safe islands, cooperation in times of disaster and on trans-boundary issues relating to shared resources and health threats, such as the Zika virus.

Commend the leadership of President Obama leading up to COP21 in Paris and urge the US Government to join our countries and the international community in ratifying the Paris Agreement, and prioritise support for the implementation of key obligations under the Agreement. In this regard, we seek the US’s political support to facilitate simplified access to climate finance for the Pacific island region, through the Green Climate Fund Board, and other climate finance entities. We further encourage the US Government to meet its pledge under the Green Climate Fund.

Reaffirm our strong commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially SDGs 13 and 14 on Climate and Oceans and Seas, underpinned by SDGs 16 and 17 on the enabling environment and implementation.

Invite the US Government to join us in our call for action under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, the 2014 Palau Declaration: “The Ocean: Life and Future” to chart a course to sustainability and its support of the ‘pre-cautionary principle’. We also reaffirm the 2002 Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Policy and the 2010 Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape: “Our Sea of Islands, Our Livelihoods, Our Oceania” as our guiding regional Ocean policy instruments.

In recognising that the revised US Tuna Treaty has been negotiated and is subject to final legal review, we look forward to the US Government’s timely rescission of its withdrawal from the Treaty, to enable Pacific island countries to finally decide allocation of fishing access in 2017.

Welcome the development focus of the revised Treaty and urge the US Government to promote US investment in the Pacific island countries’ tuna industry and encourage greater employment opportunities of Pacific island nationals, including as fishing crew and in processing plants in American Samoa.

As a coastal state in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, and given the presence of US territories, call on the US Government to cooperate with Pacific island countries in adopting measures that foster sound and equitable conservation efforts of highly migratory resources in the West Central Pacific, which would seek to conserve these species while sustaining the economic viability of Pacific island countries that are heavily reliant upon fisheries.

Given the need to enhance Pacific Islands and US engagement, we call on the US Government to ensure policy coherence between US development policies and in particular fisheries policies. In that regard, we encourage the US to support the Parties to the Nauru Agreement and the Vessel Day Scheme.

Call on the US Government to improve preferential trading arrangements by expanding goods allowed under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), to include travel goods, which could be manufactured competitively in Pacific island countries. In this regard, we urge the United States to expand US investment opportunities in the Pacific through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, including facilitating the establishment of a Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Promotions Office in the United States.

Urge the US Government to commit to dialogue with Pacific island countries under US-managed oceanic airspace, to discuss arrangements to further recognise states’ airspace sovereignty and management.

Acknowledge the United States Government’s long-standing support for Pacific island scholarships, such as the Fulbright Program and US-South Pacific Scholarship, and encourage the United States to enhance their assistance in this regard. We also request the US Government to support regional tertiary institutions to bolster regional capacity and create more opportunities for exchange.

Urge the US to take action to address meaningfully the lingering needs resulting from the US Nuclear Weapons Testing Program in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. We recognize the Special Rapporteur’s2012 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council and urge the US Government to work with the United Nations to achieve a final and just resolution for the Marshallese people.
We, the undersigned,

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill
CMG MP
PICL Chair

HE Henry Puna, Prime Minister of Cook Islands

HE Peter Christian, President of Federated States of Micronesia

HE Edouard Fritch, President of French Polynesia

HE Hilda C. Heine, Ed.D, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands

HE Thomas Remengesau, Jr. President of the Republic of Palau

HE Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands

HE Akilisi Pohiva, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga

HE Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu Hon. Ratu Inoke, Special Envoy of

HE Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji

Hon. Milton Dube, MP, Special Envoy of HE Baron Waqa, President of the Republic of Nauru

Hon. Dalton Tagelagi, Minister of Infrastructure of Niue, Special Envoy of HE Premier Toke Talagi

HE Teekoa Iuta, Special Envoy of HE Beretitenti Taneti Maamau, President of Kiribati