HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Leading a new consultation process with the UN
This week I shall be travelling to the United Nations, fulfilling my first international responsibility as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, and promoting our interests to the broader organisational community of nations. The assignment is an important one, which carries a great deal of significance for our Region and marks yet another first for the Pacific. I’m honoured to take this role alongside my colleagues and help represent and convey our collective needs to the UN.
This month’s gathering of Pacific Leaders at the UN will be a historic occasion, which eventuates as a result of a decision taken last year in New Zealand. At the time of our previous Forum in Auckland, the Leaders agreed to a new consultation process that brings all the Leaders together to meet with the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon.
The Secretary General’s presence at the 2011 Pacific Islands Forum opened a window of opportunity and it was envisaged that we would meet every two years – 26 September 2012 being the inaugural launch of high level dialogue with the Head of the United Nations.
I will be leading the meeting as co-Chair with the Secretary General on a wide range of issues, particularly in terms of how the Forum wants to identify solutions and strategies to address its priorities for the future development and well-being of the Pacific. Engaging closely with the Secretary General and his leadership team will build a strong link to ensure the voice and needs of the Pacific have access to the UN system in ways that meet the special challenges we face in our part of the world.
In my capacity as Forum Chair, I shall also be leading discussions with the Permanent Representatives of the Pacific Missions in New York. This meeting with the Pacific Islands PRs will take place prior to talks with the Secretary General and is a chance to cement and strengthen our relations among those representatives in the ‘front-line’ of diplomacy at the UN.
In addition, the presence of a Cook Islands delegation at the UN allows us to contribute to solidifying our collective position as Pacific Small Islands Developing States (PSIDS). This is particularly important given the work and influence of the broader bloc of the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) in advancing our Climate Change concerns. I will be attending the 2nd AOSIS Leaders’ Summit and contributing to the efforts in preparation for the next Conference of the Parties (COP) gathering in Qatar, under the ongoing processes of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
On a national level of priority, I will be heading a renewed look at how the Cook Islands can best interface with the United Nations on our longer term objective to become a full member of the international body. This national goal is captured in our National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP) and is earmarked for substantial investigation in the near future.
Kept largely at lower levels of priority during previous administrations, we are now better positioned to advance our efforts toward UN membership given the growing demands and emerging global issues before us. Taking the reins with a higher level of interest and understanding of our future needs, the Cook Islands is poised to embark on how it can responsibly and maturely determine a new way forward.
The occasion of the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly will thus represent historic steps forward – both for the Pacific Leaders to be engaged with the UN Secretary General in a dialogue process of the first of its kind, and for Cook Islanders who share a passion to help shape a better world for us all. -Prime Minister Henry Puna

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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