Aitutaki, Rarotonga – Pacific Island leaders have welcomed Fiji’s presentation on the Concept of a Zone of Peace at today’s Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Retreat, aligning it with the 2050 Strategy and its implementation plan through the Biketawa Declaration, the Boe Declaration, and other complementary initiatives, including the Joint Heads of Pacific Security (JHOPS).
During the retreat, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka shared his visionary statement with the leaders, emphasising the need for the Blue Pacific to become a Zone of Peace. He expressed, “This moment is an opportunity for us islanders of the Pacific to shape a common destiny built around peace.”
Prime Minister Rabuka noted that while the 2050 Strategy does not explicitly focus on peace as its primary goal, its multi-faceted approach addresses underlying factors that can lead to conflict.
“Sustainable development, climate resilience, regional cooperation, and good governance”, he explained, “could contribute to a more peaceful and stable future for the Pacific region.”
The leaders have tasked the Secretariat to further develop the concept for consideration at the upcoming 53rd Pacific Islands Forum.
Prime Minister Rabuka formally sought approval for the adoption of the vision for a ‘Zone of Peace’ or ‘Ocean of Peace,’ representing a collective commitment to maintaining peace in the region.
Rabuka envisions a foundation built on refraining from actions jeopardizing regional order, maintaining respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity emphasising the Pacific Way of dialogue, diplomacy, and consensus.
“Protection and conservation of the environment would be central, fostering more harmony and peace.”
While acknowledging the need for security and legal protections, Rabuka emphasised that the Ocean of Peace would yield social and economic advantages, strengthening unity and elevating international visibility.
“The initiative aims to enhance opportunities for tourism, investment, aid, and development, turning the vision into a reality for the benefit of the Pacific community.”
Highlighting the strategic importance of the Blue Pacific, Prime Minister Rabuka stated, “Our nations, united through this Forum, have sovereign rights over 32 million square kilometers of the Blue Pacific. That is only slightly smaller than the combined land areas of Russia, China, and the United States.”
The collective Exclusive Economic Zones surrounding the islands exceed the combined landmass of North America and Europe, reaffirming the geopolitical significance of the Blue Pacific in the competition between the U.S. and China.
As the Pacific Islands Forum looks to the future, Prime Minister Rabuka urges leaders to consider their heritage and the collective responsibility to shape a peaceful and prosperous Pacific community on the world stage.