The United Nations is counting on the leadership and active engagement of Pacific island nations in tackling some of today’s pressing challenges, including achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), advancing sustainable development and promoting gender equality, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
“Now more than ever, we must work to align our priorities and objectives,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks to the first-ever meeting of the UN and Pacific Islands Forum Leaders at UN Headquarters in New York.
He also reaffirmed his commitment at the meeting, held on the margins of the high-level debate of the 67th General Assembly, to enhancing cooperation and support for tackling the region’s challenges, such as climate change, gender equality and peace and security in the region.
The UN and the region must continue to join forces to advance sustainable development, said Mr. Ban, highlighting the need to lay the groundwork to generate new momentum for addressing the needs and priorities of small island developing States (SIDS) at an international conference to be held in 2014.
Last month in Yeosu, Republic of Korea, the Secretary-General launched an “Oceans Compact,” that will bring the UN system together to help Member States protect oceans and promote sustainable development. It also engages non-governmental organizations and other partners including the private sector, academia and the science community.
“I welcome your efforts to create Marine Protected Areas, which should help ensure a more responsible use of the region’s vast ocean and marine resources,” Mr. Ban told the gathering.
Noting that Pacific States are also particularly vulnerable to disasters, he recognized the work done by these countries and their partners to implement the Pacific Regional Disaster Risk Management Framework of Action.
“Maintaining regional peace and security, and upholding human rights and the rule of law are also vital,” stressed the Secretary-General.
With the withdrawal of the Regional Assistance Mission for the Solomon Islands next year, it is important to ensure that the country receives the required support for a smooth transition, he said. “The United Nations stands ready to assist you in achieving your security and governance objectives.”
He also noted that Fiji has embarked on a process of writing a new constitution, which is expected to lead to democratic elections in 2014. “The United Nations welcomes the steps taken so far, including voter registration and the establishment of a constitutional commission. We stand ready to support a process that would lead to the establishment of democratic order and the rule of law.
“I trust that the Pacific neighbours will keep encouraging Fiji to make progress towards full respect for human rights, accountability, transparency and inclusiveness,” Mr. Ban added.