Tokelau becomes Associate Member of Pacific Islands Forum

Tokelau has been accepted as an Associate Member of the Pacific Islands Forum. This considerably raises its profile and voice among other Pacific nations. Associate Member status encourages closer contact between the Forum Members and non-sovereign Pacific territories. Tokelau has been an observer to the Forum since 2005.

See also: "Smallest FFA member to grow SIDS voice at PIFS table
"HONIARA, 07 AUGUST 2014 (FFA) ----Tokelau's admission to associate membership of the Pacific Islands Forum is a welcome milestone that will boost oceans and fisheries issues in the region’s peak policy body."

The full release is available on the FFA wbsite:

The formal proposal reads as follows:
(as stated to the Forum Officials Committee meeting 3 July 2014)
Tokelau seeks to formally submit an application for admission to Associate Membership of the Pacific Islands Forum.
Tokelau understands that the introduction of associate membership to the Pacific Islands Forum (Forum) is a measure established to encourage closer contact between the Forum and non-sovereign Pacific territories.  
While Tokelau has been an observer to the Forum since 2005, with all its developments and involvement in regional activities Tokelau has shown that it has the will and capacity for substantive engagement with her Pacific neighbours and the competency and ability to meet obligations set by Forum.  On this note, Tokelau therefore considers it time to progress with its involvement within the Forum.  While, full membership is the ultimate aim for Tokelau, you will understand that our constitutional arrangement, as a territory of New Zealand makes us ineligible for this.
Tokelau would like to reiterate formally its commitment to the Leaders Vision for the Forum as declared in Auckland in 2004, and further revised as we move into the Framework for Pacific regionalism arrangement.  We have shown willingness and ability to participate in the Forum and supported the Forum vision and purpose.  We believe in working together with our Pacific neighbours to bring about a region that enjoys peace, harmony, security and economic prosperity so that our citizens can lead free and worthwhile lives.  
Tokelau’s vision for her people is for “Healthy and Active Communities with Opportunities for All”.  The achievement of our vision relies on attaining sustainable development that results in an improved quality of life for all, without compromise to our environment and future viability.  Tokelau states very clearly in its National Strategic Plan 2010 – 2015 (TNSP) the value it gives to securing a future for her communities whereby her culture, traditions and spiritual beliefs can prosper and be developed.  The TNSP identifies four pillars for development upon which our attention and resources have been focused: Good Governance, Infrastructure Development, Human Development and Sustainability.  You will note that these development goals are closely aligned to the regional and international development objectives that determine the purpose for most activities carried out by the Forum.  
Tokelau is a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand. In 1994, the Administrator of Tokelau located in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs delegated  powers in respect to the administration of the executive government of Tokelau to the national government of Tokelau the General Fono, and when not in session to the Council for the Ongoing Government.  However, the responsibilities for the management of fisheries have been retained by the Administrator. The General Fono makes its own decisions regarding the determination of its annual budget and priorities for development. This delegation marks the turning point in national-government.
The General Fono was given a national law-making power in 1996. While Tokelau does not have a general power to determine its own foreign policy, NZ supports Tokelau’s aspirations to become more involved with other countries or to join regional or international organisations in its own right, wherever possible.   Consequently in 1996 Tokelau entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Tuvalu and followed in 2003 by a Co-operation Arrangement with the Government of Samoa.  
In 2003 the Principles of Partnership was signed which summarises the political relationship between Tokelau and New Zealand and how New Zealand has agreed to support Tokelau in her regional and international engagements.
Tokelau is committed to contribute positively to regional and international relations of the Forum and its members.  As a territory, our membership in other regional and international organisations has been curtailed, but this has not stopped Tokelau from participating in activities of regional importance.  Tokelau is an associate member of UN FAO and we have full membership to USP. We also have full membership in the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).  In fact Tokelau is the current chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) and the annual meeting for this committee was held in Atafu 1 – 3 July 2014.  
Tokelau participates actively, as much as we are able in these organisations, given the constraints on membership in some.   With humility we submit that Tokelau has much that it can contribute with its experiences in areas such as energy, fisheries and conservation.  Tokelau believes that membership in the Forum provides an opportunity for lessons learned from our development activities to be shared with potential benefit from such conversations.  
The Pacific region is diverse and complex.  However, its extensive oceanic and land-based natural and mineral resources are of considerable global significance, as are its spatial and political geography for other, mostly security reasons.[1]  The Pacific Plan Review suggests that Pacific regionalism is a “pan-Pacific political discussion about values, vulnerabilities and dependencies that must be resolved through political choice and policy measures’ and further adds that “it is a discussion that needs to hear Pacific citizens’ collective voices.”  Tokelau humbly submits that its voice would add value to this political discussion.   
Up to this time restrictions in its membership have not diminished Tokelau’s willingness to supporting from afar the vision and purpose for regional development which the Leaders of the Pacific articulate through the implementation of the Pacific Plan and in the future the Pacific Framework and Forum activities.  
Tokelau hopes that her application for Associate Membership to the Forum will be considered positively by members. 
With Respect.

[1] Pacific Plan Review Report, p 11