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Pacific Islands Forum leaders welcome Rarotonga Treaty report

Friday 10 November 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in 52nd Pacific Islands Forum 2023, National


Pacific Islands Forum leaders welcome Rarotonga Treaty report
Cook Islands Prime Minister and Pacific Islands Forum chair Mark Brown with Pacific Islands Forum secretary general Henry Puna during the Leaders Retreat on Aitutaki yesterday. MELINA ETCHES/23110971

Pacific Islands Forum leaders have welcomed a report on Rarotonga Treaty, a nuclear-free zone treaty in the South Pacific, presented by secretary general Henry Puna.

Forum chair and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown yesterday welcomed the report and the status of the Treaty, and noted the requirements for state parties (those who are signatories to the Treaty) to report to the secretary general on any significant events within their jurisdiction affecting the implementation of the Treaty.

Brown said leaders are revisiting the Treaty and looking at issues like nuclear testing to make it more relevant to today’s context.

“Leaders promoted the full compliance by the parties to the provisions of the Treaty in pursuit of safeguarding the Blue Pacific against nuclear threats, nuclear contamination in accordance with international law, and in pursuit of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific,” Brown said.

He said leaders also reiterated the invitation to remaining Forum members to accede to the Treaty and urged the United States to ratify the treaty protocols as soon as possible.

Other discussions included the endorsement of the “Zone of Peace” proposal brought forward by Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and its alignment with the 2050 strategy. The 2050 strategy implementation plan was also endorsed.

Brown said the Pacific Partnerships for Prosperity, a political prioritisation process to mobilise resources and empower Pacific people to bring about transformational change through national and regional development, was also endorsed.

He said leaders are committed to implementing the Paris Agreement and also reaffirmed support for the Pacific Resilience Facility, a Pacific-led, member-owned and -managed community resilience financing facility.

The Pacific regional framework on climate mobility was also endorsed.

Leaders also looked at revitalising the Pacific leaders’ gender equality declaration that was first initiated in 2012 by then Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“Australia was a firm supporter of the declaration, supporting Pacific countries over the last decade, and now we are looking to reaffirm and extend this particular declaration,” Brown said.

On the Fukushima wastewater discharge, Brown said there were strong concerns by Forum leaders of the potential threats of contamination to the health and security of the Blue Pacific.

However, he said leaders also recognised the sovereignty of each of the Forum members to determine their own national positions on this critical issue, with the commencement of discharge of water by Japan to the Pacific.