Date: 2 March 2017

Guam – The Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) and Payuta Inc have established a Micronesian hub in Hagatna, Guam in partnership with Westcare Pacific Islands, a not for profit organisation on Guam.

Ribbon Cutting of Pacific Partnership Office

The hub called the Pacific Partnership Office, was officially opened last week by PIANGO executive director, Emele Duituturaga and Payuta Inc Vice Chair, Theresa Arriola and Westcare Foundation Chief Operating Officer, Maurice Lee.

“PIANGO is grateful to Payuta Inc – our Guam national liaison unit (NLU) who facilitated the connection to Westcare Foundation. Westcare has availed a structured space and office which we will be sharing with Payuta Inc. Westcare will also be recruiting a programme officer to operate from the hub.” Duituturaga said.

“For a while now, our NLUs in the Northern Pacific have been calling for support and connections with the rest of their Pacific family particularly as they juggle the demands of a changing world,” she said.

She said the establishment of the Pacific Partnership Office is an effort to build regional interconnectedness and to link national activities of CSOs to regional and international levels.

“This is a reminder that much of what we do at the regional and global levels do not directly impact on the work of CSOs out here unless we spend time with them to explain the connection.”

“The establishment of this office echoes the commitment that the PIANGO family has to unifying regional consciousness that should inspire Pacific leaders in all sectors.”

She said the representatives from Micronesian NLUs also attended the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday 28th April and were inspired to build their own country hubs.  “Apart from influencing regional and international policy, PIANGO is also focused strengthening community engagement and CSO coordination from the bottom up”.

“Westcare Foundation, Payuta Inc and PIANGO will continue to look into fully resourcing the office so it’s positioned well to keep our NLUs in Micronesia, particularly those in the Northern Pacific involved in regional policy discourse,” Duituturaga said. 

ENDS

Bangkok Unity Statement is the document which was the outcome from the Istanbul +7 Forum which took place in Bangkok, Thailand , on 30 – 31 March 2017. 

Date: 31 March 2017

SUVA – Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) will hold the Micronesia sub regional meeting as a build up to the 7th Non Profit Congress in Guam next month.

This was revealed in an official statement issued by the board of Payuta Incorporated yesterday to its members and to its regional umbrella body, PIANGO.

“The Payuta Board of Directors is pleased to announce the 7th Micronesian Non Profit Congress to be held on Guam from April 26-27, 2017,” the board said in the statement.

“We are also planning for our traditional Policy Forum and the formal meeting of the Pacific Coalition of NGO Leaders on Friday, April 28th.”

“The Pacific Islands Association of NGOs will hold Micronesian Subregional Meetings prior to the congress on Monday, April 24 and Tuesday, April 25. These sessions will be hosted by Payuta member organizations ICAN and Sanctuary, Inc.” 

The board said the congress with the theme, By Us, For Us, Within Us, will focus on strategies that will lead their consumers, communities, and the various sectors and pacific island jurisdictions to the “table” to discuss how they can better themselves. 

“The “onus” is on us and the “ownness” is within us.  These concepts imply rights and responsibilities and a oneness with ourselves.”

The statement said presentations will be made that will evoke the ideas of responsibility and perhaps even an obligation of families, community organizations, policy makers and advocates to assert their interests towards progress and change. 

Payuta Inc board chair, Sarah Thomas-Nededog who also serves as chair of the PIANGO board said they expect to have 100 local, regional and national participants as presenters and attendees. 

“The 7th Nonprofit Congress will bring together approximately 100 key individuals from Guam and the region representing the nonprofit, business and governmental sectors to explore policy and practices around key societal issues facing Guam and the larger Micronesian region,” Thomas-Nededog said.

“As in our 6 previous conferences, this event is followed by a policy forum when we submit our adopted resolutions to our local and regional policy makers inviting them to partner with us in addressing issues identified at the congress.”

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact PIANGO Communications: Email- communications@piango.org or phone: (679) 3300060

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PIANGO Executive Director, Emele Duituturaga, has a message on ” Walking the talk: Civil Society as accountable development actors” .

Date: 6 March 2017

SUVA – Indonesia’s scathing attack on Vanuatu at the 34th UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session is an attempt to divert the international community’s attention away from the ongoing human rights violations taking place in West Papua.

These sentiments were echoed by the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs(PIANGO)executive director, Emele Duituturaga after Indonesia criticised Vanuatu of “politicising the issue of West Papua for its domestic political purposes” at the UNHRC in Geneva .

“Indonesia’s reaction was quite telling of its unwillingness to respect and uphold the values of what it means to belong to the international community of nations – the UN.”

“Their  response was to resort to divide and conquer by picking on Vanuatu and then again offering to help Vanuatu with its alleged human rights issues in response to the Pacific coalition’s request to treat a member of the Pacific family – West Papua – with respect and dignity,” Duituturaga said. 

She said the Pacific Islands Coalition on West Papua (PICWP) of which PIANGO is a member of would not be requesting the UN to send special rapporteurs into West Papua if they didn’t have enough evidence to prove that West Papuans were suffering.

“Indonesia plays an important role in Pacific stability and peace, their contribution to the region is widely known and appreciated. Pacific governments and civil society would not just as easily undermine such an important relationship.”

“However, when there is overwhelming evidence that thousands of West Papuans who are Pacific Islanders have lost their lives as they tried to raise alternative views in the governance of their resources with state authorities and even to motivate seven Pacific countries to form a coalition on West Papua, Indonesia must realise it can no longer afford to feign innocence at the UN.”

She said according to several human rights reports, the number of victims and cases of extra-judicial killings and torture in West Papua have not significantly reduced between 2012 and 2016.

“The number of political arrests has exponentially increased over the last 3 years and all victims of torture and killings that our partners were able to find were indigenous Papuans. While indigenous Papuans make up only some 40% of the population, they make up 100% of the victims. There is a clear element of racial violence in the practice of security forces.”

Duituturaga said the systematic disempowerment of West Papuans is such that literacy rates in remote regions have dramatically decreased, with some villages registering literacy rates as low as 20%.

“Since 2007, Indonesia has not allowed any special procedures to visit West Papua. The region is largely closed for international human rights observers. Foreign journalists get either no access or are accompanied by intelligence, making independent fact finding impossible.”

“That’s just the tip of the iceberg and that’s what PIANGO representative, Laitia Tamata is helping to support the PICWP delegation raise awareness on in Geneva.”

Tamata was one of the six panellists at the UNHRC side event jointly organised by the Permanent Mission of the Solomon Islands, state members and the Office of the Chair of PICWP called, “Shining the Light on the Human Rights Situation on West Papua” was held on 3rd March 2017.

Other panelists included the Solomon Islands Special Envoy for West Papua, Rex Horoi, Parliamentary Secretary to the Vanuatu Prime Minister and Head of Desk for Decolonization Johnny George Koanapa, Jakarta-based Indonesian Human Rights Lawyer Veronica Koman, Executive Officer of Justice and Peace of Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia, Peter Arndt and secretary general of ULMWP, Octovianus Mote. The discussions were be moderated by Vanuatu Justice Minister, Maki Simelum.

ENDS

By – Vani Catanasiga, Research and Development Officer

Date: 28 February 2017

Global Goals

What really is the big fuss about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

This, and the question of its connection to putting food on the table are probably foremost on the minds of ordinary Pacific islanders when development stakeholders talk SDGs.

At least these are typical queries raised to the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) since it began its campaign to educate its 24 affiliates, aptly called the national liaison units on this new global agenda in 2016.

At this point, it might be important to stress that these are not necessarily PIANGO-developed goals. These were developed and agreed to by heads of states and governments in 2015 after its attempts for “collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level” through the Millennium Development Goals, fell short.

Sustainability Goals Underscore Pacific Input

Drawing from the shortcomings of the MDGs, which generally focused on economic growth and social inclusion, the SDGs or otherwise known as Agenda 2030, attempts to address hurdles to Sustainable Development with the additional emphasis on environmental sustainability.  

PIANGO officer Alanieta Vakatale and civil society representatives from around the world during a side event on SDGs at the UN’s New York office last year.

Unlike the MDGs, the SDGs require “shared action” which means that these goals can only be achieved by 2030 if implementation is carried out by “all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership.” This not only places the responsibility of its achievements in the hands of our governments but on civil society, private sector, community groups and individuals as well.

With three of the 17 Goals solely dedicated to the protection of the environment and a specific goal on climate change, the region’s role in this global campaign cannot be emphasised enough. The Pacific is after all the global “poster child of climate change” with a few of our leaders recognised as global advocates for communities across the region facing the inevitable loss of their homes, heritage and livelihoods.

The Fijian Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama’s chairmanship of the United Nation’s biggest climate change meeting in Europe, the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in October this year, is a case in point.

Another high level international event and UN Conference that’s SDG-related and is expected to have some focus on the Pacific is the upcoming Oceans Conference. The conference aims to foster the implementation of SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Even more encouraging is the fact that Fiji’s Speaker of the Parliament, Dr Jiko Luveni is an SDG Champion and has actively advocated on SDG 16 which promotes, peace, justice and strong institutions since 2016. Initial joint action with the Fiji Council of Social Services contributed.

Samoa as a Pacific Example

While the SDG’s 13 (climate), 14 (Oceans), 15 (Terrestrial) are probably the goals that the Pacific may be more visibly engaged with, these are not the only ones on which development stakeholders have concentrated on. Infact, the government of Samoa was amongst the 22 countries that participated in the 2016 UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) National Voluntary Review session, scrutinising national efforts for the achievement of the 17 goals.  

In doing so, Samoa demonstrated the existence of political will as well as Pacific initiative to link existing country mechanisms for sustainable development to emerging global agendas. But there is still room for improvement according to the Samoa Umbrella for Non Governmental Organisations’ Roina Vavatau.

Vavatau represented Samoa civil society at the HLPF Action for Sustainable Development-facilitated side event in New York, US, alongside PIANGO’s Alanieta Vakatale and raised the need a more robust mechanism that fosters meaningful partnerships with private sector and CSOs

“CSOs want to be consulted not just informed after government has decided,” she said at the meeting.

Coordination is Key, Not Capacity

Worries that Pacific societies lack the appropriate systems in place to ensure that attempts to fulfil the goals are met, are misplaced. The SDGs, if approached correctly, would be an opportunity for governments to rediscover the gems inherent in Pacific indigenous cultures and traditions.

Gems like “social safety nets” in indigenous cultures of Pacific people, traditional conservation methods and sustainable approaches to economic development. Tapping on these “gems” are part of a move by Pacific CSOs to rethink and redefine development approaches in the region.

PIANGO executive director, Emele Duituturaga says based on the initial 2016 campaign, once ordinary Pacific islanders understand what the SDG frames, work will no longer focus on the relevance of the goals.

“What we firmly believe as PIANGO is that, it will not be about relevance nor capacity because we have demonstrated that we have existing mechanisms in formal governments as well as traditional governance. It will come down to coordination – our ability to coordinate our implementation and actions on the 17 Goals across sectors.”

Ends

 

Decolonization is an interesting  concept as it requires an understanding of the next generation transformational thinking to be engaged personally in the process of decolonizing one’s mind, realizing that most of what we now have as our values, traditions and cultures were actually imposed on us by our Colonizers. The ability to and the process of decolonization is one that is very interesting and when not done with the proper care and responsibilities can be become a lost cause or damaging. This is so when after realizing the right to determine by one’s self what is best, is decolonizing a process of emptying one’s self from values, practices and traditions or otherwise. Is it a process of not necessarily empting one’s self and then re-filling or re-colonizing one’s self with something new?

Some of the interesting issues in decolonization for PIANGO that has a spirituality, religion and cultural identity is to interrogate a claim which labels the popular Christianity as the Pacific religion a tool of colonization.  The late Pacific Studies[1] Professor Ron Crocombe stated in this regard that: “Colonization was so effective that most of what Pacific Islanders are holding onto as they cultures and tradition were actually showed down their throats by their colonizers.

Transformational Leadership contributes to the thinking by always going back to the ‘being’ and in a radical responsibility manner, assure the being that the answer lies within. In addition, the thinking that will be pursued is that ‘the question determines the answer’ and “when one asks the correct questions.  . one gets the correct answer“. The thinking provides that as and when the time comes o ask these questions, the answers will, through the process of critical thinking unveil itself. However, as “all there is; Is interpretation”, decolonization is mindful that if the questioning is wrong or suspended prematurely, the possibility of being stuck in interpretations based on the past is highly likely. When this happens, the thinking will miss ‘the fact in the matter‘ and the choices will be addressing interpretations of the fact and not the fact itself.

The Decolonization project also has a strong political and realistic component where along these decolonization of the mind is the desire to fulfill national self determination by the indigenous people of West Papua where they are seeking the realization of their human rights to self determination in their country against the occupation of the Indonesian Government. This requires high level diplomacy and lobbying coupled with negotiating from the grassroots to National and the global UN level. Together with the people of West Papua are the concerns from the Kanaky and for the life of this project  Bougainville

The target groups includes NGL target groups and people living in countries and situation requiring the recognition of their right to self determination.

[1] From the University of the South Pacific

HRBA_recommendations_fr

The Pacific CSO Capacity Building Program funded by Bread for the World (BftW) aims to strengthen regional civil society organisations (CSO) through strategic investments in two key areas.

Through 2016 to 2018, the programme will invest in PIANGO and Pacific regional NGO partner networks to help increase their capacities and competencies and better reflect and respond to the diverse CSO landscape in their communications, interactions and cooperation at the country level in the various Pacific islands.

Secondly, it will work to develop a mobile pool of Pacific based local experts to provide ongoing technical capacity building support to Pacific CSOs.

Between 2016 and 2018, PIANGO is expected to conduct sub-regional workshops and trainings with key CSO actors and PIANGO members on leadership, next generation leadership, self-determination and decolonization as well as develop capacity building program design for future implementation as part of programme efforts to strengthen PIANGO and its partner networks and improve communications and cooperation.

Under this strategic area, it will develop a PIANGO Code of Minimum standards and accountability mechanism, conduct meetings with thinkers and institutions to fully develop an action plan and establish a platform to engage with partners, media, think tanks and actions groups across the region and beyond.

To build a mobile team of Pacific-based local experts for capacity building support, the programme will conduct needs assessments and provide organizational development support, training with Pacific experts to develop tools, methods, approaches and skills for effective consultations.

There are also plans to convene a networking of communication and ICT national focal points to respond to ICT and Human resource development capacity needs as well as the establishment of web-based mechanisms to enable smooth communication and exchange among the team of experts.

By doing these, PIANGO hopes that Pacific CSOs and grassroots are represented in regional and global fora and PIANGO dialogue mechanisms for quality debate, discussions and explorations- reflecting diversity of interest groups and CSO positions.

It also hopes that by 2018, key renowned media and academic institutions are engaged in the Rethinking Development and Reshaping the Pacific We want themes and are publicizing alternative strategies, policies and proposing innovations that are relevant for leading the Pacific into the future.