The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Special Leaders’ Summit in Honiara concluded yesterday with the reaching of a number of key decisions on issues of interest to the Melanesian sub-regional bloc.

The meeting was chaired by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Hon Manasseh Sogavare and leaders in attendance included Prime Minister, Hon Frank Bainimarama of Fiji, Prime Minister, Hon Charlot Salwai of the Republic of Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Hon Rimbink Pato and Spokesman of New Caledonia’s Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS), Mr Victor Tutugoro.

The key decisions reached were based on issues of discussion were submitted by the MSG pre-summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) also held in Honiara one day ahead of the Leaders’ Summit and they are as follows:

  • Approval of the appointment of the former Fiji diplomat, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli as Director General of the MSG Secretariat;
  • Approval in principle the establishment of the Police Ministers’ Meeting, noting the need for further consultation by some members;
  • Directing of the MSG Secretariat to expand the consultation process on the MSG Humanitarian and Emergency Response Coordinating Centre (HERCC) and identify cost implications of consultations on the HERCC and also the Sub-Committee on Security to meet and formulate the HERCC Regional Response Strategy and Action Plan;
  • Deferral of the consideration of application for full MSG membership by the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) until membership criteria and guidelines are further developed by the Sub-Committee on Legal and Institutional issues, considering fundamental principles, political aspirations and principles of international law and to be completed before end of September 2016;
  • Approval of the dissolution of the Melanesian Solutions Limited (MSL), the business arm of MSG;
  • Tasking of the Interim MSL Board to reimburse the shareholders’ contribution in consultation with the MSG Secretariat;
  • Tasking of the MSG Secretariat to report back to the members on the actions undertaken;
  • Noting of an update by the FLNKS on behalf of the FLNKS and the New Caledonian Government regarding the Melanesian Games and regretfully informed members of their inability to host the Games in October 2016;
  • Thanking of the MSG FMM Chair, Hon Milner Tozaka, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands of the Report of the FMM that was held on 13th July 2016 at the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara, Solomon Islands. The Leaders did not reach consensus and directed the Sub-Committee on Legal and Institutional Issues to undertake further review on the Revised Application Procedures, Criteria and Participatory Rights and Obligations of an Observer and an Associate Member to the MSG appended as Annex I and the New Membership Guidelines for Full Membership to the MSG appended Annex II;
  • Agreeing on the Trade Ministers’ Meeting Report of May 2016 as tabled by the TMM Chair, Hon Milner Tozaka, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands. They congratulated Hon Tozaka and the MSG Trade Ministers for their meeting outcome in concluding negotiations on the new MSG Trade Agreement;
  • Agreeing to fulfill respective national processes in member countries before signing the MSG Free Trade Agreement; and
  • Agreeing that they meet in Port Vila, Vanuatu before end of September 2016.

The two-day Leaders’ summit programme was compounded into a one-day event, as Prime Minister Bainimarama had to return to Fiji early to attend a national event requiring his presence.