Minister Regenvanu addresses Non- Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting

(l-r): Minister Regenvanu, Mickael Forrest (FLNKS representative), Ambassador Odo Tevi, in the meeting venue. Photo: Supplied

It is crucial for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to remain united and continue to present an alternative stance that represents the conscience of those who are left behind, while remaining relevant in addressing the world’s problems.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, External Trade and International Cooperation Ralph Regenvanu made the statement when he addressed the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Baku, Azerbaijan, on the 5th of April 2018.

“Today, we live in a world different from when NAM was established in the 1960s, he said after thanking the outgoing Chair of NAM, Venezuela and their Bureau, for its stellar leadership in the past years and also congratulating Azerbaijan for assuming the Chairmanship of NAM.

“Many more countries have gained political independence, the Cold War has ended, and some developing countries and especially Asia have become centres of world economic gravity.”

The world continues to experience seemingly insurmountable challenges that pose uncertainty for global sustainable development and for international peace and security.

“Poverty, terrorism, migration, conflicts and climate change remain unresolved, he said.

“To add to these challenges, the rise in populism, nationalism, and protectionism in some major countries puts into question the future of the current multilateral order.

“Given these daunting challenges, NAM’s role has become ever more important. It is in these critical times that it is important that we do not lose sight of the vision and principles of the Non-Aligned Movement.

“Our vision to be non-aligned from major global powers, to free people from colonial oppression, to ensure international peace and stability, to champion human rights, and to ensure an inclusive and reformed multilateral order, remains as relevant as ever today.”

Minister Regenvanu noted the Pacific Islands continue to face significant political and development challenges.

“The Pacific remains the region of the world with the greatest number of colonies still in existence, he said.

“The people of New Caledonia or Nouvelle-Calédonie will be participating in a referendum to determine their self-determination in November of this year.

“I recognise the presence in this meeting of our observer organisation representing the decolonisation movement of New Caledonia, the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front, and urge NAM to continue to call for the conduct of this referendum to be peaceful, free and fair, and also to ensure that it reflects the wishes and aspirations of the indigenous peoples of this territory.”

The question of French Polynesia also remains unresolved and the territory also continues to be on the list of the UN Committee of 24.

Minister Regenvanu said it is equally important that NAM calls for a peaceful resolution of their political future.

“There is also the long-standing issue of West Papua, whose indigenous people remain colonised and with their human rights compromised, he continued.

“Vanuatu welcomed the statement made by the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner on the 7th March 2018 (last month) at the Human Rights Council highlighting the ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua.

“It also applauds the stance of Indonesia to welcome the visit of the UN Human Rights Commissioner to the territory. Vanuatu together with other members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (the MSG) are working towards providing full membership of our group to the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (the ULMWP).

“It is our view that by becoming a full member of the MSG, the ULMWP will finally have a multilateral forum in which they can peacefully discuss their political future on an equal footing with Indonesia, which is also an associate member of the MSG.”

With 120 member states, NAM is the biggest grouping of countries within the UN system.

It was formed during the Cold War, as an organization of States that did not seek to formally align themselves with or against any major power blocs, but sought to remain independent or neutral.

Vanuatu became a member in 1983.

Interestingly, Minister Regenvanu’s father was the first Vanuatu Minister to attend a NAM meeting on behalf of Vanuatu, in New Delhi in 1983.

He attended with Mr. Joe Natuman (then a Foreign Affairs official) and Vanuatu’s then-Ambassador to the UN, Robert Van Leirop.

After becoming a member of the NAM, Vanuatu immediately participated in co-sponsoring (with Papua New Guinea and Algeria) the membership of the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) as an observer at the next meeting of NAM in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1986.

The FLNKS has been an observer member of NAM since 1986.

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