Communique 2002

Funafuti, Tuvalu

30th September, 2002


1. Introduction

The 7th Student Pacific Islands Conference Of Leaders was held from the 23-30 September, 2002 in Funafuti, Tuvalu. The conference was convened to address the topic of Migration, is it a Pacific Pride or Pacific Problem for the peoples of the Pacific. Member countries represented at the conference were the Cook Islands, East Timor, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Hawaii, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and West Papua. The Hawaiian delegation was kindly supported by the Ford Foundation and the Centre for Pacific Island Studies at the University of Hawaii. Also in attendance, were two United Nations observers (from the University of Hawaii), a number of conference consultants (including several presentations from the University of the South Pacific, the Fiji School of Medicine, the Fiji Institute of Technology and the University of Hawaii), officials, lobbyists, journalists and members of the public.

Under the general theme of migration, the following topics were discussed: Social Issues, Forced Migration, Labour, Sovereignty, Economics, and a Regional Court of Migration. The 2002 SPICOL Communique provides a regional framework from which to address mobility in the Pacific.

2. Issues and Recommendations

2.1 Social Issues

2.1.1 Women and Migration

The delegates recognized that women and their children are often invisible and undocumented migrants. It was recommended that better data collection techniques be put in place. To this end, research must be carried out by the currently existing tertiary institutions. This will continue until the migration department of the Pacific Land’s Commission is established. This will devise a region-wide standard of data collection to reflect the reason’s and impacts of women’s movements. Region-wide training will then be conducted.

2.1.2 Urbanisation

Delegates recognized that there were often severe psychological adjustments for islanders moving from rural communities to urban contexts.


The creation of an association of psychologists to be established in collaboration with the department of psychology at USP to make a detailed study of these impacts.

That rural communities be made more attractive, for instance building rural community development centres as has been done in Hawaii.

Delegates endorsed strengthening the recommendations in this regard of the Communique of SPICOL 2000 [Section C number 2].

2.1.3 Health

Delegates recognized that health issues were linked with population pressures. The concern was expressed about the lack of awareness of HIV/AIDS in rural communities.


Health care facilities should be decentralized with an emphasis on family planning and sex education.

2.2 Forced Migration

2.2.1 Australia’s asylum seekers

The delegation notes with concern that Australia appears to be trying to abdicate its responsibilities to asylum seekers by setting up processing centres within Nauru and Papua New Guinea.


That it be reiterated to Australia and the existing asylum seekers that this arrangement is temporary.

For the future all the delegates agreed that no further asylum seekers to Australia, would be processed within the Pacific.

2.2.2 Internally Displaced Peoples

Concern for IDPs was noted accordingly and respective nations should highlight the plight of IDPs to their respective voting public. When possible governments should promote the extension of land leases. Effected governments should focus on direct dialogue between IDPs and landowners [instead of through a middle party].

2.2.3 Displacement due to Environmental Disasters

Environmental disasters, especially sea level rise, were noted as a significant cause of displaced people.


Region to undertake severe lobbying to encourage Australia and the US to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

East Timor and Tonga did not support this clause.

All member countries to sign the petition to push the Kyoto protocol.

A regional strategic plan would be devised in cooperation with SPREP to anticipate potential damaging sea level rises.

Annual disaster relief membership fund would be applied, collected, and administered by SPREP.

2.3 Labour

2.3.1 Brain Drain

It was recognized that a serious impediment to regional development was the continued out-migration of qualified professionals – so-called ‘brain drain’.


Delegate countries to standardize professional labour rates relative to cost of living across the region.

Scholarship bonds are recommended both from the government and the private sector.

Existing labour laws would be improved and updated.

Prioritizing local human resources.

A regional treaty will be drafted for the protection of working migrants.

Special mention was made for the region’s medical professions who are experiencing notable emigration from the region. Reasons given were low salaries, poor working conditions, and lack of continued professional upgrading of skills and equipment.


Nations to review the salary structure of the medical professions in their respective countries.

2.4 Sovereignty

2.4.1 Resettlement and National Identity

It was recognized that resettlement brought about concerns of the sustainability of the national identity of the resettled population.


Delegates in line with recommendation 2.2.3 would apply pressure to non-signatories to the Kyoto Protocol, to endorse it thus avoiding resettlement issue altogether. With this signed document, the leaders submit their petition to the relevant parties to in fact ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

To leave it to individual member countries to go along with negotiations when, how and with whom they would like to approach when the need arises – taking into consideration their land rights, EEZ, etc.

2.4.2 Hawai’ian Sovereignty

SPICOL supports Hawai’ian representation into international forums and for official recognition of Hawai’ians as a sovreign nation for Hawai'i.

East Timor and Tonga did not agree to support this clause.

2.4.3 West Papua

West Papua came to the SPICOL conference seeking support for independence. In response SPICOL expressed sympathy for the plight of West Papuan indigenes, and agreed to the following:

  • Urge the UN to review the Free Choice Referendum of 1969.
  • To urge the UN to recognise West Papua as a non-self governing territory.
  • Urge the UN to investigate human rights offences.

2.5 Economics

2.5.1 Remittances

SPICOL recognizes the importance of remittance benefits for small island countries. It also recognizes threats to these remittances such as tightening of immigration laws by Australia, New Zealand and the US, from where the remittances are most commonly sent.


Petition Australia and New Zealand to relax their labour laws with regard to Pacific islanders.

SPICOL members would implement a scheme to dissuade over stayers in the affected countries. Specifically migrant workers would have to provide a security bond and/or a guarantor who is a prominent member of the respective society.

2.5.2 Economic Liberalization


To encourage and appeal to native migrants to invest resources in their home countries. For example Niuean migrants have successfully rescued the single national hotel in Niue from closure.

Local partners in foreign investment schemes must be actively involved and not silent partners.

To improve national labour laws for the protection of regional migrants under the PICTA agreement.

That a regional web based job bank be established.

2.6 Regional Court

The delegates discussed the feasibility of a regional court and decided that the laws of the respective countries could not be overridden by a centralized legal body.


SPICOL determined that a department of migration be established within the Pacific Land Commission (PLC) which would deal with human rights and migration issues.

3. Other Matters

3.1 New Caledonia

SPICOL would support New Caledonia into next year’s convention in an observer country where they may put forward their case.

3.2 Host for SPICOL 2003

Fiji will host SPICOL 2003.

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