Declaration on US-Pacific islands partnership lists 11 priorities
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
President Joe Biden and Pacific leaders have reached an 11-point Declaration on U.S.-Pacific Partnership that will guide the working relationship between Washington and the Blue Pacific.
“Today, in the face of a worsening climate crisis and an increasingly complex geopolitical environment, we recommit ourselves to working together in genuine partnership to address the mounting challenges of our time,” states the declaration signed on Sept. 29 by Biden and 12 Pacific island leaders, who joined the U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit hosted by the White House.
“This joint vision will guide us as we enter the most consequential period in the history of our partnership,” states the declaration that covers a wide range of issues from climate change to regional security.
The two-day summit concluded with an agreement that regular meetings will be held “to ensure our partnership continues to deliver practical results for our people and the world.”
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the summit was designed to provide Washington with a “roadmap” that will direct its future programs for the Pacific island region.
“This summit is the latest effort on the part of this administration to hear directly from you about your priorities, your ideas, your hopes for the future of the region and the world, and especially how we can work together to try to achieve them,” Blinken said during a luncheon meeting with island leaders at the Benjamin Franklin Room in the White House on Sept. 28.
“One of the messages that we’ve heard loud and clear from Pacific island leaders is that building resilience is about more than equipping communities to adapt to the effects of the climate crisis, which for many of you is an existential threat,” Blinken said.
In the declaration, U.S. and Pacific island leaders agreed to place the highest priority on the climate crisis.
“It remains the single greatest existential threat to the livelihoods, security, traditional and customary practices, and wellbeing of people in the Pacific region, including as reflected in the Boe Declaration on Regional Security,” the declaration states.
The U.S. and Pacific island leaders agreed to ensure the timely completion of the negotiations on the Compacts of Free Association.
The U.S., which is separately negotiating the expiring provisions of the compact with the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau, said it "recognizes that new resources must be part of any successful negotiation,"
The declaration is summed up as follows:
First, we resolve to strengthen our partnership.
Second, we commit to bolstering Pacific regionalism. Third, we are committed to tackling the climate crisis together as a priority. Fourth, we are committed to enhancing our cooperation to advance economic growth and sustainable development in the Pacific. Fifth, we are committed to supporting each other to better prepare and respond to natural disasters. Sixth, we resolve to protect the Blue Pacific and enhance the laws that govern it. Seventh, we resolve to maintain peace and security across the Blue Pacific Continent. Eighth, we commit to continuing our cooperation in addressing Covid-19 concerns and other health-related issues. Ninth, we commit to expanding opportunities for all our peoples. Tenth, we reaffirm our commitment to comprehensively address the legacies of conflict and the promotion of nuclear nonproliferation. Eleventh, way forward and future implementation of the Partnership.
“We share a vision for a resilient Pacific region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity, where individuals can reach their potential, the environment can thrive, and democracy will be able to flourish,” the declaration states.
U.S. and Pacific island leaders also agreed to “forge links within the region, supporting infrastructure, transportation connectivity, cybersecurity capacities, and digital infrastructure in the Pacific.” “We will be expanding our cooperation to enhance the development of the sustainable blue economy, including small- and medium-sized enterprises, labor, forestry, fisheries, agriculture, trade, tourism, and addressing supply chains issues and food security,” the declaration states. Signatories to the declaration include the following:
Prime Minister Mark Brown of Cook Islands Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama of the Republic of Fiji President David W. Panuelo of the Federated States of Micronesia President Edouard Fritch of the Government of French Polynesia Charge d’Affaires Josie-Ann Dongobir of the Republic of Nauru President Louis Mapou of the Government of New Caledonia President Surangel S. Whipps, Jr. of the Republic of Palau Prime Minister James Marape of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea President David Kabua of the Republic of the Marshall Islands Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa of the Independent State of Samoa Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Siaosi ‘Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni of the Kingdom of Tonga Prime Minister Kausea Natano of Tuvalu President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of the United States of America Ambassador Odo Tevi of the Republic of Vanuatu