The Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Committee on New Caledonia concluded three days of extensive and inclusive consultations with key stakeholders to gauge a sense of the progress in implementation of the Noumea Accord. The Forum Ministerial Committee is mandated to observe the progress of implementation of the Noumea Accord, which sets the agreed pathway to allow the people of New Caledonia to determine the process to self-determination, and to reaffirm the Forum’s commitment to support that process including identifying options for Forum support to New Caledonia’s continued political development. The mission was led by the Forum Chair, Honourable Henry Puna Prime Minister of Cook Islands, and included the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade.
Prime Minister Puna expressed his sincere gratitude to the Government and people of New Caledonia for the warm reception accorded to the mission, and commended all the stakeholders consulted for the immense progress achieved under the Noumea Accord, in particular progress toward greater self-governance and economic development, while critically maintaining peace and stability.
The Committee called on the Customary Senate and met with the traditional leaders of New Caledonia. The Committee also had meetings with President Harold Martin and members of his Cabinet; Mr Gerard Poadja, President of the New Caledonia Congress; representatives of political parties; and Leaders of the Provincial Governments. The Committee also met with His Excellency Jean-Jacques Brot, High Commissioner of France to New Caledonia. Prime Minister Puna expressed appreciation for the opportunity to meet with the wide range of stakeholders and thanked all interlocutors for their candid and frank discussions and exchange of views.
Prime Minister Puna said he was “very impressed by the unified position and commitment across the political landscape to maintain peace and stability and continued economic growth and development, despite the uncertainty of future political arrangements.” Prime Minister Puna added “in that regard I am pleased to note two key features of New Caledonia’s development strategies, namely the recognition of the Kanak identity and circumstances as well as the real and sustained efforts underway to achieve economic and social rebalancing across the country.” It was also encouraging to note that there was widespread recognition and acceptance that New Caledonia is home to other communities and they should equally benefit from the rebalancing efforts.
Prime Minister Puna said that as the Forum Committee was in New Caledonia to observe and listen, he was pleased to be able to advise Forum Leaders, at their upcoming meeting in September, that both the letter and the spirit of the Noumea Accord were respected and acted on, and that the irreversible process toward self-governance under the Noumea Accord was progressing well with all parties committed to a peaceful and prosperous future for all New Caledonians.
In concluding, Prime Minister Puna reaffirmed that “the Forum’s commitment to support New Caledonia in its journey toward self-determination remains steadfast, recognising that New Caledonia is a member of the Pacific family and should take its rightful place in the Pacific community.”