HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Pacific Islands achieve milestone with the UN
The Pacific Islands achieved an important milestone in New York this week, affirming and strengthening a special place in the United Nations system of global programmes. As a result of a historic joint-chairing of formal dialogue with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, I had the honour of leading my Pacific colleagues in this inaugural process of building a new framework of cooperation with the world’s most important political grouping.
The UN Secretary General welcomed the theme of this year’s Pacific Islands Forum – Large Ocean Island States: The Pacific Challenge – and the significance of our revitalized approach to meet the collective needs of our peoples. For the Cook Islands in particular, the conservation and management of our ocean and its resources is playing out across the globe with broader, deeper meaning. I am pleased that this new level of cooperation with the UN Leadership will now work towards achieving a much stronger position with our own national goals and aspirations.
Our dialogue with the Secretary General and his Leadership Team for example, has resulted in firm support for all the Pacific Small Islands Developing States (PSIDS) to participate in the global process of securing sustainable development for the most vulnerable nations. The Cook Islands was unfortunately excluded (along with Niue) from the recent Rio + 20 event due to the political considerations beyond our influence. This has to change. As part of the world family of SIDS, the Cook Islands has actively participated in this process since its inception in 1992. To be excluded after all these years of contributing to the voices of all SIDS, we shouldn’t be denied access to helping build a better future for all – especially right here in the Pacific Region.
The Pacific SIDS are a crucial element in the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) and the Cook Islands must inject and maintain its presence and active participation in the international dialogue process. The UN has recognised this with our joint meeting stressing the importance of ensuring that all PSIDS are able to participate fully in the 3rd International Conference on SIDS, in 2014. This meeting will take place in the Pacific and help promote the collective concerns about our unique vulnerabilities and particular development needs of the region.
Today’s Summit meeting in New York of AOSIS Leaders, which is presently chaired by President Dabwido of Nauru, is our opportunity to reinforce the Pacific agenda on Climate Change and Adaptation measures, particularly in terms of funding mechanisms and the timely delivery on project development and implementation. We also have much to do in advance of the next Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention, in Doha, and I am pleased the Cook Islands continues to be constructively engaged at all levels.
In addition to Sustainable Development and Climate Change, there is indeed a range of other areas in which cooperation between the UN and the Pacific will be strengthened, helping to support our national and regional priorities. Improving food, water and energy security; transportation; non-communicable diseases; human rights and measures to address the economic and political empowerment of women and gender-based violence; disaster risk reduction and emergency relief and recovery; regional security; and addressing the on-going impacts of nuclear testing in the Pacific, are all important to us and our fellow Pacific nations.
The steps we have taken at the UN this week is our commitment to achieving not just the goals associated with the cooperative frameworks and mechanisms in place but to ensure the collective voice of the Pacific has a place in the determination of a safe and peaceful environment for our future. -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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