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MSG Needs a New Roadmap for the Next 25 Years
Source: pina.com.fj
Source Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Created: Mar 26, 2013

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) needs a ‘roadmap’ to guide its work for the next 25 years and beyond. “The MSG is young and growing, with opportunities galore, with new targets to aim for and new achievements to expect, said Kaliopate Tavola, one of the Eminent Person’s recruited by the sub-regional group to chart a new way forward for the MSG. Tavola was amongst a selected group of experts from Melanesia invited to share their views on the future of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. He said the MSG should ‘open itself to new opportunities’ as it grapples with increasing challenges of globalisation and changing geopolitics in the region. “One of the challenges is the label of ‘arc of instability’ which should be turned around as a means to aspire, borrowing from what Sir Michael Somare termed as an ‘arc of prosperity.” For young Kanak and Radio Djiido journalist, Magalie Tingal, the MSG is their ‘arc of opportunity. She expressed the desires of her people to be integrated into the Pacific and with MSG. “MSG is our future. Our culture and our identity is with Melanesia not in Europe, said Tingal. Tavola, who will soon lead an Eminent Person Group to review the MSG, echoed the observation made by the PNG Grand Chief that if the MSG is to remain relevant, it should continue to push for the eventual independence for the Kanaks of New Caledonia and the similar struggles of the people of West Papua in Indonesia.
 
He agreed with the suggestion that the MSG open its membership, as suggested by Sir Michael Somare. “The MSG should open itself to new issues, widening its Terms of Reference. It must have some degree of responsiveness to the interests expressed from those outside the organisation. The MSG is the only strongest, well advanced and unique sub-regional group. The region can only be strong if we have strong sub-regional groups like the MSG. Other regions have set up their groups like the Polynesian Leaders Group, the Small Island States and the Micronesians.” MSG Director General, Peter Forau assured the group is a ‘shoulder to lean on’ for issues that concern the membership. He was responding to questions on the push for independence for the indigenous people of New Caledonia. “We are a regional and international voice for those who cannot speak for themselves’ said Forau, assuring that human rights abuses and push for independence for the people of West Papua is not forgotten by the MSG. For West Papua, the issue is a bit sensitive right now. But we continue to speak out against the situation there. Most recently, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea spoke out against the abuses in West Papua. We have some difficulties with West Papua because their issue is to re-enlist on the UN List of decolonised states. However, as a start we have received an application from one of their groups to join the MSG. This is following its normal process of approval before the Leaders will decide in June, said Forau. The panel discussion at the University of the South Pacific on the topic ‘What does the MSG mean to you’ was organised by the Pacific International Relations Forum (PIRF). PIRF is an initiative by the students of the Diplomacy and International Relations Masters Programme to create public discussion on regional and international issues relevant to the Pacific region.
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