The Pacific Islands Forum Regional Security Committee (FRSC) held its annual meeting at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Headquarters in Suva, Fiji from 5 – 6 June 2013. As the Forum’s principal meeting on security and governance issues, the Committee deliberated on a broad range of complex and challenging issues.
In opening the Committee’s meeting, the Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, highlighted key developments relevant to the work of the Committee including: the Forum’s participation in the United Nations’ negotiations for an Arms Trade Treaty; the progress of regional efforts to manage the negative impact of unexploded World War II ordnance; and increasing efforts by Forum Island Countries to enhance the accountability of their security sector through the development of national security policies.
The Committee – which includes senior government officials, regional law enforcement organisations and international security and governance stakeholders – also discussed other significant security and law enforcement issues affecting the Pacific region, including illegal fishing and the increasing need to protect our Pacific communities against cybercrime.
A common theme of the discussions was the importance of managing and sharing information between law enforcement agencies – both at the national and regional level – so as to improve the region’s ability to effectively respond to transnational crime. Secretary General Slade stressed that ‘this is a critical issue which needs to be addressed by all parties.’
The Committee also considered the report of the Pacific Islands Forum Working Group on Counter-Terrorism which had met prior to the FRSC, on 4 June. The Working Group discusses and coordinates domestic and regional counter-terrorism activities. It also tracks the Pacific region’s progress in implementing the international legal regimes against terrorism and terrorist financing, and identifies technical assistance available to Forum Members.
Key developments in relation to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and the Ministerial Contact Group on Fiji were also considered by the Committee.
In briefing the Committee on RAMSI, Secretary General Slade noted that ‘2013 is a historic year for RAMSI and the Solomon Islands because it marks 10 years of combined hard work. It is a real credit to the people and government of the Solomon Islands and Forum countries for the considerable progress made so far in the Solomon Islands, as well as being a fine example of regionalism.’ The nature and mission of RAMSI will change in July with the military drawdown from 1 July 2013, shifting to a policing mission providing support to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and the bilateral assistance currently provided by RAMSI, moving to individual bilateral development programmes.
The Committee’s recommendations on regional priorities in the security, law enforcement and governance sphere will be referred to the Forum Officials Committee and subsequently Forum Leaders.
Supporting the discussions of the Member Countries were representatives of organisations active in law enforcement activities in the region such as the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police, Oceania Customs Organisation, Pacific Immigration Directors’ Conference, Pacific Islands Law Officers’ Network, Forum Fisheries Agency, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering and UN bodies such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, United Nations Development Programme – Pacific Centre and Group of Experts supporting the UNSCR 1540 Committee.