The Pacific Islands Forum is an intergovernmental organization formed by 16 nations of the Pacific Ocean. The organization is mandated to promote intergovernmental relations between member countries and to come up with solutions to collectively tackle common issues such as climate change and eradication of diseases. The Pacific Islands Forum which was founded in 1970 was initially known as the South Pacific Forum but revised its name to a more geographically accurate one in 1999. The Forum has its headquarters in Suva, Fiji, and has annual meetings in alternating locations where the leader of the government in the host country acts as the chair. These countries which do not share a border are in talks to develop a free trade zone among the member countries to promote free movement of people and commodities.
The member countries and territories of the Pacific Islands Forum are 16 nations located in the Pacific Ocean and include Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands among others. Other countries are listed as observers who do not enjoy all the privileges that come with membership. These nations include American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands among others. Some global institutions and organizations such as the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Bank are also observers.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is the core institution of the Forum and is headed by the Secretary-General. The Secretariat has the mandate to implement various decisions made during the annual meeting of the leaders of the member countries as well as implementing technical programs in trade and economic development. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has offices spread around the globe from Auckland to Sydney and Beijing that work independently and is collectively called the Pacific Islands Trade and Invest. The Secretariat has an office in Switzerland which is also the Permanent Delegation of the Pacific Islands Forum to the World Trade Organization. The Secretary-General also acts as the permanent Chairman of the Council of Regional Organizations in the Pacific also known as CROP.
Expulsion And Readmission Of Fiji
The island nation of Fiji had failed to hold a general election which had been scheduled for March 2009. This prompted the Pacific Islands Forum annual meeting to give Fiji an ultimatum to hold the general elections giving a deadline of May 1, 2009. Failure to comply would necessitate tough decisions from the Forum. After Fiji failed to meet the set deadline, the Forum suspended Fiji’s membership indefinitely. This was the first time a nation was suspended in the Forum’s history and set a precedent for similar issues in the future. However, after five years, Fiji conducted a general election on September 2014 after which the Forum readmitted Fiji on October 2014.
The Pacific Union
The Forum has been deliberating to form a union of all member nations which will have common institutions, use a common currency and have a free trade zone with free movement of commodities and people. The existing similar integration is limited to New Zealand and Australia but aims to be rolled out to all members of the Forum. However, no timeline has been given to this effect.