Communique 2000

Tarawa, Kiribati

30th OCTOBER, 2000



The fifth Student Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders (SPICOL) was held in Tarawa, Kiribati from the 23rd to the 30th of October 2000. The meeting was held under the auspices of the University of the South Pacific, with financial support from the USPSA, SSED, SOH, The Department of Education and Psychology, the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre, and assistance from the Department of History/Politics, the Journalism Programme and CELT. It was attended by the Heads of Government (accompanied by their ministers and advisers) of the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu. This year, the conference was approached by the visiting East Timorese leader and his delegation, and gave its unanimous support for East Timor to become the 15th member of SPICOL. Also attending were a number of consultants, lobbyists, officials, members of the media and the public.

Under the general theme of security, the conference discussed a wide range of issues including,

  • the rising incidence of internal armed conflicts in member states
  • the role of the military in the SPICOL region
  • the continuing threat posed by past and current nuclear activity in the Pacific Ocean
  • the deteriorating law and order situation in a number of countries
  • increased incidences of violation of human rights in the region
  • the security concerns of women and children including physical abuse, rape, pedophilia, and the opportunities lost for women resulting from excessive spending on arms and the military
  • the rights to personal security of minority groups such as gays and lesbians
  • the security threats to our environment caused by global warming and rising sea levels, unsustainable and exploitative levels of mineral extraction, deforestation, pollution and excessive fishing
  • the value and need for education programmes about the environment and the establishment of more recycling plants
  • threats posed by unbridled economic globalization to the economic and employment security of the region
  • alternative approaches to economic development such as the viability of establishing decentralized communal economies
  • The need to find more equitable and transparent ways of sharing the profits generated by the economic use of our resources (both human and natural)

  • The importance of agriculture and marine resources in securing healthy standards of living for current and future generations


A. Military Issues

The Formation of a Regional Security Exchange Program (RSEP).

SPICOL is to establish a regional security exchange program at the voluntary discretion of member governments to look into the security concerns of the Pacific region. The RSEP is to be established to cover all issues related to security in its broadest sense. This includes:

  • The environment e.g. EEZ patrolling, natural disasters, mineral extraction, deforestation, depletion of bio-diversity (marine and land life), issues connected with nuclear activity such as the effects of nuclear testing, transshipment of nuclear wastes and uranium.
  • Social eg. Drug trafficking, Pedophilia.
  • Economic eg. Money laundering.
  • Military and Police Force cooperation (at the discretion of governments concerned).

The SPICOL secretariat is to undertake practical steps to coordinate this program with the view of depoliticising the military and improving good governance in the region.

Moving Towards a Demilitarized Zone.

Conscious of the threat to peace in the region posed by military activity and believing that most current unrest appears to be connected with the use of military force, SPICOL wishes to encourage a reduction of arms throughout the region. To facilitate this objective, SPICOL has agreed to the following recommendations:

  • Those countries that have military capabilities commit themselves to take measures to ensure a gradual reduction in the availability, circulation, and use of weapons and to minimize military expenditure.
  • Those countries that do not currently have a military force commit themselves to begin the legislative and constitutional process to declare their countries military-free and, pledge themselves to continue to rely on the police force for their security needs.
  • Those SPICOL countries that have existing defence and military agreements or obligations with larger nations (such as the U.S.A. and the U.N.) agree to review these arrangements with the view of gradually reducing foreign military presence and activity.

Nuclear Security in the Pacific

SPICOL is concerned about the continued threat of nuclear activity to the security of Pacific peoples. It notes with concern the shipment of radioactive waste, the presence of nuclear powered vessels, the real and potential effects of nuclear radiation and testing, and the need for more equitable provisions of compensation for the current and future victims (both human and environmental) of nuclear activity.

SPICOL will approach nuclear powers with the view of ceasing the transportation of nuclear weapons and waste in and out of the Pacific region. Any nuclear power will be obligated to seek the approval of the SPICOL forum before conducting any form of nuclear activity in the SPICOL region. For instance, nuclear powered vessels and nuclear weapons will only be allowed into the Pacific upon the approval of SPICOL member countries. SPICOL also undertakes to support those countries who are seeking just and equitable compensation for the current and future effects of nuclear testing, with concerned powers and appropriate international agencies such as the International Court of Justice.

Environmental Security Issues

SPICOL expressed its concern about increasing threats to the security of the land and ocean of the Pacific. SPICOL views these threats as endangering the future well being of our people.

Nation states in the region are encouraged to set up environment protection agencies (EPAs). These would have the legislative powers to enforce such issues as the prosecution of pollution violators within the region. SPICOL undertakes to maximize regional cooperation in:

  • protecting the natural resources such as minerals, forests, marine life etc.
  • supporting research initiatives to monitor sea level rise and
  • educating the community (particularly school children) about the value of sustainable development and the need for recycling programs.

SPICOL undertakes to support sub-regional and national recycling plants for paper, plastics and aluminium. Sub-regional plants are to be set up to cater for the special needs of small island nations that would otherwise not afford these plants. The SPICOL Secretariat is charged with the responsibility of finding funds to assist in the setting up of these plants.

Security against Globalization

SPICOL observes with interest and concern the accelerating integration of the Pacific into the global economy and the need to manage this integration with more care. SPICOL is also mindful that conflicts in the region are in large part caused by the inequitable distribution of wealth generated by local and foreign business interests and, by the lack of involvement in decision-making of communities at the local level.

1. Employment and Investment Opportunities

SPICOL is to establish a regional employment agency to promote employment opportunities in the region. The role of this agency will be to coordinate and facilitate the movement of labour and skills within the SPICOL region.

To this end, SPICOL recommends the loosening of immigration policies between member states to allow for fair entry of regional employees into SPICOL member countries. This is to facilitate the movement of labour and skills within the SPICOL region and to limit the excessive movement of migrant labour from outside the region.

2. Alternate Models of Development: Decentralization and Communal Economies

SPICOL notes with grave concern the tendency of globalization in ballooning urbanisation in the region to dangerous and unsustainable levels. SPICOL therefore promotes decentralisation amongst its member countries. This is intended to encourage job creation and opportunities in rural areas.

To this effects it expresses support for initiatives to find alternative models of development such as communal economies to empower and involve communities at local levels. SPICOL notes with interest the success of small island nations such as Kiribati and Tuvalu in establishing community banks to facilitate village-level development projects and to reduce the growing gap between rich and poor, rural and urban. SPICOL resolved to set up a task force to familiarize itself with such successful programs. This task force will report its findings at the next conference.

3. Trade

SPICOL also supports initiatives to increase the quantity of trade between member countries and has decided to set up a common market to sell produce. It has asked the SPICOL Secretariat to calculate a formula that will ensure that all countries benefit from this arrangement.

SPICOL is mindful of the need to secure a significant in the world market for its agricultural and fisheries products. To this end, it proposes to set up a regional trade block in which individual countries agree to jointly export these products to the world market thus being able to control prices by attempting to influence the supplier.

To prevent the abuse and exploitation of small economies vulnerability and dependency on foreign investors, SPICOL forum countries also wish to standardize all tax concession policies used in the region to attract these foreign companies. This exercise is to be supervised by the SPICOL Forum and is to be reviewed at the end of a five year trial period.

Pacific Resources Development Agency (PRDA)

SPICOL is to set up a regional body to ensure that landowners are duly informed and consulted about the economic value of their natural resources. Furthermore, this body the Pacific Resources Development Agency (PRDA), will see that landowners receive the appropriate of profits from the extraction or productive use of these resources.

SPICOL supports the establishment of joint ventures between companies wanting to extract the resources and the landowners and assigns the advisory role of the PRDA to this end.

Food Security

SPICOL wishes to encourage community and individual agricultural programs such as cooperatives and subsistence farms and businesses that assist our region in greater self-reliance. SPICOL undertakes to support such programs through its development aid arms to encourage the production of more locally produced food products.

6. Corruption and Nepotism

SPICOL notes with alarm the increasing incidence of corruption and nepotism in the region. To combat this tendency, SPICOL recommends the setting up of an institution and other support structures to which it expects all of the region’s ombudsmen and women to report to. Rather than possessing legislative powers, this institution will be self-regulating and expected to work closely with media organisations. This scheme encourages closer regional cooperation in exposing and reducing incidences of corruption and nepotism and steering the region towards greater transparency, competence, and accountability.

D. Gender

SPICOL expresses its full support to eradicate violence against women in the region. It agrees that armed conflict causes lasting physical and mental scars for women and children. To this end it hopes that the gradual demilitarization of the SPICOL region outlined above will help in ensuring that our region is safer for them.

The existing women’s regional inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations such as the women’s branch in the SPC and the Pacific YWCA need to be supported and strengthened and given the mandate to address violence against women and children in SPICOL member countries. Such organisations need to be assisted and given more substantial resources to facilitate their legislative work including funding for technical assistance such as lawyers, consultants and trained lobbyists.

Gay and Lesbian Rights.

SPICOL considered a paper prepared by lobbyists from the Gay and Lesbian group and appreciates the issues raised. SPICOL decided to reserve judgement on this sensitive issue. It prefers to encourage national governments to review the discriminatory provisions in their constitutions and to take appropriate action in the ratification and implementation of those treaties and conventions that protect gay and lesbian rights. SPICOL members are to implement programmes to facilitate dialogue with the gay and lesbian community and also sees the need to conduct more research to address the needs and grievances of this and other minority groups.


SPICOL recognises the importance of education and sound educational policies in fostering and guaranteeing a peaceful environment for the region. SPICOL recommends that efforts be undertaken to diversify the SPICOL school curricula into broader frameworks to prioritise non-formal education. SPICOL recommends the expansion of tertiary programmes in the region to cater for technical and vocational content.

SPICOL wishes to sponsor and promote culture and vocational exchange progammes at all levels (primary, secondary and tertiary). This will ensure that students who are deprived of opportunities to pursue formal academic studies are given a chance to realise other talents. This exchange programme will also promote understanding and awareness of the various cultures within the region which ultimately leads to a greater sense of unity within the region.

SPICOL understands its cultures to be dynamic and encourages all initiatives that support new cultural production particularly those aimed at fomenting a culture of peace in the region.

F. SPICOL Forum Support for East Timor

SPICOL Forum delegates are unanimous in their support of East Timor calling upon both Australia and Indonesia to

  • recognise the sovereignty of the new independent state of East Timor and therefore it’s sovereignty over the management and jurisdiction of its resources, territorial waters and air space.
  • recognise the need for appropriate and efficient compensation whether by financial grants or other grants for the use and exploitation of these resources as well as to apply the same compensation to include other negative social, political and environmental impacts of the use and exploitation of the same by the two countries and other enterprises working at the exploitation of the said resources of the same countries.

Both Vanuatu and Tuvalu expressed an interest in hosting the next SPICOL conference and after a secret ballot, it was decided that Vanuatu would be granted the honour of hosting SPICOL 2001.

The conference wishes to extend its gratitude to the people of Kiribati for their warm welcome and hospitality during our stay here.

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