13 November 2011

Colonies or territories? Pacific territories knock at the Forum’s door


by Nic Maclellan
 Islands Business Magazine (Fiji)

When the Pacific Islands Forum was created in 1971, only Cook Islands, Nauru, Fiji and Western Samoa (now Samoa) were independent nations. Forty years on, the Forum has evolved into a 16-member body, linking Australia, New Zealand and the 14 independent islands states (with Fiji currently suspended from Forum activities).

But today, the Forum is no longer just an institution of the independent nations of the region. Over the last decade, the Forum has granted associate membership or observer status to a range of Pacific territories that are still administered by France, New Zealand and the United States.

The regional organisation now has two associate members—the French dependencies of New Caledonia and French Polynesia—while Tokelau and Wallis and Futuna have observer status. The government of Timor-Leste has access since 2002 as a special observer.

At their September 2011 meeting in Auckland, Forum leaders also granted observer status to the three US dependencies in the region: the territories of American Samoa and Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). 

Today, only the tiny British territory of Pitcairn, the island of Rapanui (under Chilean administration), the US state of Hawai’i and Indonesian-dominated West Papua remain outside the Forum’s embrace. 
Read the full article here .