It's hard to believe how the South Pacific Forum has moved from a cluster of small Pacific Islands having a group hug, kalavata shirts or dresses, a talk fest, to the huge number of representatives for next week's meet! Super powers itching for their share of power and advice alongside Tomu, Dike, Ari and Arieta!
Superpowers focus on tiny Rarotonga for the Pacific Forum
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton … leading largest delegation expected to hit Rarotonga. Image: CSMonitor
Pacific Scoop: Report – By Rachel Reeves in Rarotonga
Some of the world’s most prominent superpowers could converge on the little Pacific island of Rarotonga next week.
The Pacific Islands Forum could be the impetus for the United States, China and Russia to be in the same place at the same time.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is making global headlines this week, as the world wonders whether she is in fact hauling a cargo plane and a delegation of about 50 people to this South Pacific paradise.
While China is not officially an observer country, it will be sending a delegation to the Forum. Yesterday coordinators had yet to receive travel arrangement details for the Chinese.
Cook Islands News understands there is a possibility of a Russian delegation coming to the Forum, though Russia is neither an observer nor a post-Forum dialogue partner.
Media liaison officer Derek Fox says Russia is unlisted, but he understands “there may be some interest in someone from Russia coming”.
That, he noted, is unconfirmed. He took the opportunity to point out that Clinton’s attendance is also unconfirmed.
Notable politicians Other notable politicians attending include Britain’s Environment and Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon and Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile and current executive of UN Women, who will be leading the United Nations delegation.
A total of 57 countries and organisations will be represented at the Forum.
The average size of a Pacific Island delegation is under 10. Should Clinton make the journey to Rarotonga, her delegation is likely to be the largest of them all.
In total there will be 15 Pacific Islands Forum member countries represented – they are Australia, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat will be bringing his own delegation of 11 people.
Fiji has been suspended over its military-backed regime.
French Polynesia and New Caledonia are attending as associate members, and the Cook Islands News has confirmation that French Polynesian president Oscar Temaru will be representing the former.
‘Observer’ delegations All up, 12 “observer” delegations are attending – representing American Samoa, Guam, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna, ACP Group, Asian Development Bank, Commonwealth Secretariat, United Nations, Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the World Bank.
Some countries (or blocs) which are neither members nor observers will be sending delegations to Rarotonga – they are Canada, China, European Union, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Other accredited delegations include Cuba, Israel, Singapore and Taiwan.
Nine CROP (Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific) agencies will be attending – Fiji School of Medicine, Pacific Aviation Safety Office, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, Pacific Islands Development Program, Pacific Power Association, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program, South Pacific Tourism Organization, and the University of the South Pacific.
Fox says the numbers of security personnel are unlisted, as technically the Cook Islands police – and the New Zealand police sworn in to assist them during the Forum – are responsible for maintaining law and order.
Rachel Reeves is political reporter with the Cook Islands News. CIN reports on the Pacific Islands Forum will be featured on Pacific Scoop, along with stories by AUT postgraduate communication studies journalists and students.