The Pacific Islands Forum is a political grouping of 16 independent and self-governing states.
Members include Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
New Caledonia and French Polynesia, previously Forum Observers, were granted Associate Membership in 2006. Tokelau, which was previously granted Forum Observer status in 2005, was also granted Associate Member status in 2014. Current Forum Observers include: Wallis and Futuna (2006), the Commonwealth (2006), the United Nations (2006) the Asian Development Bank (2006), Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (2007), the World Bank (2010), the ACP Group (2011), American Samoa (2011), Guam (2011) and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (2011), and the International Organization for Migration (2014) with Timor Leste (2002) as Special Observer.
The annual Forum meetings are chaired by the Head of Government of the Host Country who remains as Forum Chair until the next meeting.
Since 1989, the Forum has held Post Forum Dialogues with key Dialogue Partners at Ministerial level. There are currently 17 partners – Canada, People’s Republic of China, Cuba, European Union, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
The Pacific Islands Forum was founded in 1971 as the South Pacific Forum. In 2000, the name was changed to the Pacific Islands Forum to better reflect the geographic location of its members in the north and south Pacific.
Founding members of the Pacific Islands Forum were Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand, Tonga and Western Samoa – now Samoa.
The Secretariat to the Forum was initially established as a trade bureau in 1972 and later became the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation (SPEC). In 2000, when the name of the Forum changed, the Secretariat became the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is based in Suva, Fiji. The Secretariat’s mandate is delivered through the annual Leaders’ Communiqués and high level ministerial meeting decisions.
The Forum Secretariat is led by the Secretary General (currently Dame Meg Taylor of Papua New Guinea) who is directly responsible to the Forum Leaders and to the Forum Officials’ Committee (FOC).
FOC is the Secretariat’s governing body comprising representatives from all Forum members.
The Forum Secretariat is also mandated to coordinate the implementation of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is an international organisation established by treaty, enjoying legal personality in each of its sixteen member countries.
The Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific
The Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat is permanent Chair of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP).
The Forum Leaders established the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific, CROP (formerly the South Pacific Organisations Coordinating Committee, SPOCC) in 1988 with the mandate to improve cooperation, coordination, and collaboration among the various intergovernmental regional organisations to work toward achieving the common goal of sustainable development in the Pacific region. CROP comprises the heads of the intergovernmental regional organisations in the Pacific.
The Forum Secretariat has trade offices in Auckland, Beijing, Sydney, and Tokyo that work independently but come together as Pacific Islands Trade and Invest.
The Forum Secretariat also has an office in Geneva, Switzerland, for the Permanent Delegation of the Pacific Islands Forum to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Smaller Island States Officers
As part of its outreach assistance to Members, the Forum Secretariat has desk officers in the Smaller Island States (SIS) of Cook Islands, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, and Tuvalu to complement the resources of its smallest Members. The Forum Secretariat also has a representative based in Solomon Islands and plans to widen representation in other member countries.
The ultimate benefit of the Forum Secretariat’s activities is received by the People of the Pacific, particularly those of the Forum Island Countries. The Pacific Islands’ Forum Leaders and Members, as critical stakeholders, provide the Forum Secretariat with its direct mandate. Closer contacts between the Forum and non-sovereign Pacific Territories are by way of Associate Membership or Observer status to the Forum.
The Forum Secretariat is also reliant on key stakeholders such as other Regional Partner Organisations and Development Partners for their cooperation and means to deliver the Leaders’ mandate.
Finally, the Forum Secretariat informs and receives input from interested parties, such as non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations, and other civil society organisations, collectively termed Non-state Actors.