THE issue of West Papua remains a headache for the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Member countries like Australia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji are reluctant to grant full membership to the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), which is lobbying for regional support. But the issue will not go away, as civil society networks call on their leaders to support the right to self-determination.
First adopted in 2014, the Framework for Pacific Regionalism (FPR) is the new policy mechanism for business and community organisations to put forward submissions for regional action by the Forum. In both 2015 and this year, the largest number of submissions through the FPR called for action on West Papua. In Pohnpei, civil society representatives also met over breakfast with a troika of island leaders, lobbying for the Forum to take the West Papuan issue to the international community.
Despite this, the final Forum communique simply states that “leaders recognised the political sensitivities of the issue of West Papua (Papua) and agreed the issue of alleged human rights violations in West Papua should remain on their agenda. Leaders also agreed on the importance of an open and constructive dialogue with Indonesia on the issue.”
After the meeting, Emele Duituturaga, executive director of the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisations (PIANGO) said: “We know that the draft text reflected their intention to take West Papua to the United Nations, but when the final communiqué was released, it had been watered down.”
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