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
“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
The Pacific regional framework on climate mobility was
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.