“Our Objective is strengthened governance, legal financial, and administrative systems.” – Framework for Pacific Regionalism
Forum Leaders have continuously articulated the importance of good governance for the region.
The Biketawa Declaration (2000) outlines guiding principles for good governance and courses of action for a regional response to crises in the region.
The Biketawa Declaration also commits Forum members to fundamental values of human rights and good governance including, among others, a “belief in the liberty of the individual under the law, equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, colour, creed or political belief” and “upholding democratic processes and institutions which reflect national and local circumstances, including the peaceful transfer of power”.
The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands or RAMSI (2003-2017) and the Pacific Regional Assistance to Nauru or PRAN (2004-2009) were key Pacific Island Forum initiatives sponsored under the auspices of the Biketawa Declaration. The Forum’s targeted sanctions against Fiji (2009-2014) were also implemented under the Biketawa Declaration.
Under the current Framework for Pacific Regionalism Forum Leaders’ “…embrace good governance, the full observance of democratic values, the rule of law, the defence and promotion of all human rights, gender equality and commitment to just societies.”
As a prerequisite for sustainable development and economic growth, the governance priorities in the Pacific include bolstering key governance and accountability institutions to enhance the transparency of political and economic processes, strengthening oversight mechanisms to ensure the effective management of the region’s natural, human and financial resources, and protecting fundamental human rights.
The Forum Secretariat works closely with its membership and a wide range of stakeholders toward these goals. The core activities include observance of elections, the Forum Compact, legal advice and legislative drafting support, and promoting the Forum Principles of Good Leadership and Accountability.
An important good governance activity undertaken by the Forum Secretariat is supporting and coordinating election observer missions to Forum member countries. Forum election observer missions take place at the request of the Member government, and are a practical demonstration of the Forum’s support for good governance and human rights at political and community levels.
Forum election observer missions facilitate independent analyses and reporting on elections, boost the confidence of voters and other participants in transparency of processes, and offer expert recommendations on how electoral processes might be improved.
Election observer missions also demonstrate members’ shared commitment to peaceful and democratic governance and strengthening the integrity of electoral processes, in accordance with the Biketawa Declaration.
From a technical perspective election observer missions also provide opportunity for the sharing of experiences and best practices amongst electoral officials. During the course of missions, the electoral experts on observer teams are encouraged to share their experiences with the host country, particularly on challenges identified by the hosts. Visiting experts have also noted practices from which their own countries could benefit.
The first Forum election observer mission was deployed to the Solomon Islands in 2001 and subsequently thereafter to: Cook Islands (2010); Fiji (2006); Nauru (2004, 2008, 2010 and 2016); Niue (2011, 2017); Papua New Guinea (2007, 2017); Republic of the Marshall Islands (2007); Samoa (2011 and 2016); Solomon Islands (2006, 2010 and 2014); Vanuatu (2004 and 2016); and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (2005, 2010 and 2015).
The Forum Secretariat also participated in the Australian Election Visitor Programme for the 2016 Australian elections.