WHITE AUSSIE JOURNALIST MOCKS MICRONESIA

DOES IT REALLY MATTER IF PACIFIC ISLAND FORUM FALLS APART?

Last week’s fiasco over electing a new
leader revealed an organisation too
fragile to confront big challenges.

The bloc of Micronesian nations have had a toddler’s tantrum after missing out on their choice to be the next Secretary General of the Pacific Island Forum. “But it was my turn!”

So off stomps Nauru – protectorate of Australia’s interests for combating boats of asylum seekers, a nation with such a history of commitment to diplomatic due process it was only a decade ago willing to trade international recognition of Russian “liberated” territories South Ossetia and Abkhazia for a handful of Kremlin coins.

Marshall Islands similarly pokes out its tongue, miffed that the PIF will be led by the Cook Islands’ Henry Puna instead of its own candidate and present UN ambassador Gerald Zackios. We know already that ambassadorial jobs are hotly contested by Marshall Islands – after all, in 2014 it was so keen as to nominate a Hezbollah-linked former Lebanese general to be its delegate to the Paris-based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, only to rather quickly change its mind when word leaked.

But it’s surely churlish to bring up these pesky governance questions of the past. The PIF region likewise doesn’t seem too bothered that it persistently lags on most development measures and has an abysmal record of women’s representation in politics, the lowest in the world. Rotating the leadership between the sub-regions must be more important than, you know, measures of personal competence. Plus, I’ve heard Henry Puna sing to the assembled leaders of the Pacific at the 2012 PIF meeting on Rarotonga while he was prime minister, and he can really belt out a tune.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/does-it-really-matter-if-the-pacific-islands-forum-falls-apart

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