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Launch of the Pacific International Relations Forum

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The President of Kiribati, His Excellency Mr Anote Tong (front row - fourth from right) with staff and students of the Graduate Studies in Diplomacy and International Affairs Programme at the USP.

The newly-established Pacific International Relations Forum, an initiative of the Graduate Studies in Diplomacy and International Affairs Programme at The University of the South Pacific, was launched by the President of Kiribati, His Excellency Mr Anote Tong, on 9 October 2012, in Suva. The Forum seeks to promote interest and understanding of international issues within the Pacific Islands region. Head of USP's School of Government, Development and International Affairs, Professor Vijay Naidu, said it was pleasing to note that the Forum was an initiative of the students and graduates of the Diplomacy and International Affairs Programme within the School. The Programme, which was launched in December 2010, has attracted a very talented and highly experienced student body of around 100 postgraduate students in its first two years of operation. It was out of this very talented group that the idea for the establishment of a Pacific International Relations Forum was mooted. In conveying USP’s support towards the initiative, Professor Naidu said that the University sees this as an opportunity to encourage debate and knowledge-sharing around international issues and challenges that are crucial to Pacific societies. “We welcome the fact that it links the University to the wider community and that it is committed to fostering a regional knowledge network, a value dear to our hearts at the regional University,” he commented while speaking on behalf of Professor Rajesh  Chandra, the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP. Professor Naidu expressed his delight and said that the University is very honoured that H.E. President Tong agreed to launch the Forum. In his remarks, the Head of State of Kiribati said that the launch of such a forum was timely for the Pacific as it is now entering a new phase. He described this new phase as a paradigm shift where the Pacific needs to chart its own course and lead global thinking in crucial areas such as climate change, ocean governance and sustainable development. “For a long time we have been branded as ‘Small Island Developing States’ since we emerged into the global stage as independent and sovereign States. Our mindset and vision of ourselves and the world has been influenced by this doctrine.” “More often than not, we see a world where developed countries will continue to dominate global politics and economics, whether we have a say in it or not,” he continued. The Kiribati President emphasized the need to engage even more aggressively internationally because the key to Pacific’s survival will depend on international action on key issues such as climate change. “We can and must continue to work diligently together to influence world opinion on issues that matter to us,” those present at the launch were told. H.E. Mr Tong noted that there have been a number of developments to indicate the increase in engagement of the region in some significant groupings within the United Nations. For example, Nauru’s selection as Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States and Fiji’s appointment as the Chair of G77 and China, as well as Samoa hosting the Global Small Island Developing States Conference in 2014. “But as we focus our attention on our relations beyond our region, we need also to look at how we relate with each other within our own region. There can be no doubt that there is greater strength in regional solidarity.” This, the President elaborated, has been clearly demonstrated in many areas including regional fisheries, trade negotiations, environmental management and climate change. He congratulated the University, the student organizing committee and all those involved with the initiative of establishing the Pacific International Relations Forum. H.E. Mr Tong anticipates that issues he touched on will in turn raise a number of challenging and unprecedented international issues that will provide fertile ground for discussion within the Forum. “As leaders we do not always have the answers and we look forward to inputs into our foreign policies which the Forum may care to put forward,” he said. The Forum will promote discussion of a broad range of international issue areas including international trade and investment; international security; conflict, international peacekeeping and conflict resolution; global and regional environmental challenges; and the impact of developments in global and regional governance. It will also foster discussion concerning ways that Pacific states might best rise to the challenges and opportunities posed by global developments. The Forum’s administrative home will be the School of Government, Development and International Affairs in the Faculty of Business and Economics. The Forum’s day-to-day activities will be managed by a committee drawn from the alumni and current student body of the Graduate Studies in Diplomacy and International Affairs Programme.

This news item was published on 17 Oct 2012 08:02:07 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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