One of the regionalism priorities mentioned in the Final Communique of the Pacific Islands Forum Summit in Nauru this week was the engagement by Forum countries on issues affecting West Papua.
Item 33 on the Forum Communique states, “Leaders recognised the constructive engagement by Forum countries with Indonesia with respect to elections and human rights in West Papua (Papua) and to continue dialogue in an open and constructive manner”.
Just before the final communique was released by the Forum Secretariat, Vanuatu’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ralph Regenvanu who was in Nauru, in a telephone interview with Kizzy Kalsakau from 96 Buzz FM News, said he hoped West Papua would be included in the final communique.
Regenvanu said Vanuatu will be putting forward a resolution before the United Nations General Assembly next year for West Papua to be relisted on the agenda of the United Nations Decolonisation Committee.
He said for this to happen, it would need the support of the majority of the General Assembly, which means 100 countries will have to vote in support of the resolution.
“We are now putting up this resolution next year.
“We have informed all Pacific Islands Forum member countries that we are doing this and we will be asking for their support when it comes to the UN General Assembly next year.
“Already, i as minister of foreign affairs at the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers meeting in Apia last month, i informed all my colleague foreign ministers that Vanuatu was gonna do this and i asked for their support,” Minister Regenvanu said.
He said already it is clear the resolution will not get the support from Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea but around eight or nine other countries in the Pacific are in support.
Regenvanu said Prime Minister Charlot Salwai had told him before the Leaders Retreat at the Forum meeting that he would raise the issue of West Papua with the Forum Leaders.
Other regionalism priorities mentioned in the communique are; Leaders recalled their 2017 decision on a regional security declaration and endorsedthe Regional Security Declaration to be known as the Boe Declaration; they recognised that climate change presents the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security and wellbeing of Pacific people; leaders reiterated their commitment to ensuring the long-term sustainability and viability of the region’s fisheries resources; leaders acknowledged the urgency and importance of securing the region’s maritime boundaries as a key issue for the development and security of the region; and leaders expressed their grave concern with the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), noting that NCDs now represents the leading cause of premature deaths in the region.