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NGO Parallel Forum Expresses
Pacific peoples' concerns on climate change,
nuclear weapons, and self-determination

Kekuni Blaisdell,
Rarotonga, Cook Islands and Honolulu, Hawai'i

Kekuni Blaisdell, convenor of the Pro-Hawaiian Sovereignty Working Group and coordinator of Ka Pakaukau, a group of twelve organizations seeking independence attended the recent 3rd NGO Parallel Forum, Rarotonga, Cook Islands and submitted to In Motion Magazine the Communiqué from the Forum and also a resolution on Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) self-determination which summarizes the Hawaiian/U.S. history including the U.S. Congress' apology to the Hawaiian people for the 1893 U.S. invasion of Hawai'i.

3rd NGO Parallel Forum, Rarotonga, Cook Islands 19-26 September 1997

The land is our mother, our life, our history, our culture, our spirituality, our future generations. Our waters are sacred waters which sustain all life forms. The sea is where all life comes from. The ocean unites us all, as peoples of the Pacific. Our ancestors cared for these life forms, respected them and were their guardians. They are our guardians still.

As our governments meet at the 1997 South Pacific Forum, we have gathered in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, as non-government and community organizations, as representatives of churches, trade unions, women's groups and environmental organizations, as peoples of the Pacific.

We, the delegates to the third NGO Parallel Forum, give voice to our visions and concerns, and our commitment to action on issues affecting: our environment and resources; indigenous rights, sovereignty and decolonization; economic, social and cultural development; and relations with our governments and the governments of the colonial powers in the Pacific.

We note 1997 South Pacific Forum communiqué does not address the right to self-determination and independence for colonized peoples. Together with our delegates from East Timor, West Papua, Te Ao Maohi (French Polynesia), Bougainville, the Kanaka Maoli of Ka Pae'Aina (Hawai'i), Aotearoa and Aboriginal Australia, we reaffirm our support for the right to self-determination.

Next year is the anniversary of the annexation of Ka Pae'Aina (Hawai'i), and the Kanak people of Kanaky (New Caledonia) will determine their future. People in Wallis and Futuna. Rapanui and the South Moluccas have also been colonized by foreign powers. We call for more action by the governments of the South Pacific Forum, and the Forum Secretariat, for the complete decolonization of the South Pacific. We call for the extension of the mandate of UN Decolonization Committee beyond 2000, and the reinscription of colonized peoples with the committee's list of non-self-governing territories.

The 3rd NGO Parallel Forum endorses the resolution from the Indigenous peoples' workshop at the September 1996 workshop on the United Nations Draft Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, hosted by the Government of Fiji.

We are saddened by the response of the Australian government to the Human Rights Commission report on the Stolen Generations, and oppose the government's plans for theft of land under the Wik 10 point plan for extinguishment of native title.

The NGO Parallel Forum also planned actions to halt the destruction of our environment and resources. We must act to maintain control of our land, our waters, our labour.

We welcome the South Pacific Forum's statement on positive progress in the movement for the abolition of nuclear weapons. But the end of nuclear testing in the Pacific does not mean the end of 'the nuclear age. We will return from Rarotonga to our homes, to press for an end to the transshipment storage and dumping of nuclear wastes in the Pacific, the clean up and ongoing monitoring of contaminated sites, and support for test site workers affected by nuclear testing, especially in Te Ao Maohi (French Polynesia), Christmas Island, and the Marshall Islands. From Rarotonga, where the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty was first signed, we call on our governments to amend and strengthen the Treaty. We support initiatives for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, and seek government support for its formal introduction to the United Nations.

We were angered that Pacific peoples' concern on climate change was overridden at the South Pacific Forum. As Australia and other industrialized nations failed to heed our voices , we call for Pacific governments to support the position of the Alliance of Small Island .States (AOSIS) at the December 1997 climate change negotiations in Kyoto, Japan

We oppose the proposed ten year extension of permits for the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agents Disposal System (JACADS), and call for the South Pacific Forum to carry our concern to the United States governments and NGOs on this issue. Our air and waters are sacred - we are not the dump site of the world.

The focus of the Forum Economic Action Plan is on economic growth and privatization, but we reaffirm that development can only take place if it builds community and equity, and addresses all aspects of life, our culture, our values, our environment, and the social wellbeing of our communities.

The NGO Parallel Forum welcomes the participation of the Deputy Secretary-General of the South Pacific Forum Secretariat for the first time at our meeting, but calls for mechanisms for formal and regular communication between Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), the Forum Secretariat and South Pacific Forum.

We thank our hosts, the people of the Cook Islands, the Cook Islands Association of Non-Government Organizations (CIANGO). The Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organizations (PIANGO), and the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific/Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC).

Published in In Motion Magazine November 20, 1997