REMARKS: Opening Address, Pacific Regional and National Security Conference, Honourable Prime Minister of Fiji, Sitiveni Rabuka

Honourable Prime Minister of Fiji, Sitiveni Rabuka


  • Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Baron Waqa
  • Members of the Pacific Islands Forum, represented here by Heads of Mission and Senior Officials
  • Representatives of our regional security organisations
  • Sisters and brothers from the Pacific security community
  • Academics and civil society representatives and other experts

Ni sa bula vinaka!

A very warm welcome to everyone from the Pacific security community and beyond, gathered here in Suva for this Pacific Regional and National Security Conference!

Seeing everyone here highlights the strength and the solidarity of the Pacific security effort.

All of us can build peaceful and prosperous Pacific communities by cooperating and learning from each other.

My government is committed to building peace… at home, in the Pacific, and on the global stage.

This is why I am so pleased you have gathered, in a spirit of friendship and shared purpose, to also promote peace and security.

Because, sisters and brothers, when I think about the legacy I want to leave my children and grandchildren… we must, we must, work together to tackle the polycrisis before our great Blue Pacific.

I believe on Wednesday you will conduct a futures exercise, to consider the decades ahead to 2050.

How will we reach the future we want in 2050?

What legacy will we leave our children and grandchildren?

These are the most important questions.

To leave a good future, we are called to urgent action now.

Let me outline some aspects of this polycrisis before our great Blue Pacific, and how my government is responding.

Climate change

Like all of you, I remain very concerned about the existential threat climate change poses to our Blue Pacific.

The seasonal patterns our ancestors lived by are shifting rapidly, with more change ahead.

Here in the Pacific, the difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 or 3 degrees is not subtle.  It is a knife’s edge.

It is the difference between the habitability of our island homes and forced migration.

It is the difference between catching your own fish, and growing your family’s food, or being wholly dependent on imported protein.

It is the difference between economic sovereignty, and fully fledged dependence on external aid and disaster relief.

The only way through is to work together, as this Conference demonstrates.

For Fiji, as our capacity allows, we will continue to deploy humanitarian and disaster relief to our neighbours, including for

  • bush fires
  • severe tropical cyclones
  • earthquakes

Please take the message back to your homes: Fiji stands with you.

Transnational crime

Fiji, like all Forum members, also faces the challenge of protecting our waters against transnational organised crime.

Fiji, through the combined efforts of our border agencies, and the support of our partners, has carried out many drug raids in recent times.

The value of the drugs seized is estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

This is the reality Fiji faces as a hub and transit point in the Pacific.

We know that crime and criminal groups do not respect borders.

Rather, they manipulate borders in their business model.

Cyber criminals ignore borders all together.

These criminal groups can only be disrupted and dismantled by all of us working together.

I look forward to hearing the Conference’s ideas for how we can fight the scourge of transnational crime and drugs.

Human security

These challenging times also remind us of the importance of human security.

The “triple burden” of non-communicable diseases, mental health, and the climate emergency, are straining health resources everywhere.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also reminded us of the importance of biosecurity in our interconnected world.

We welcome this dialogue, bringing together expertise from across the Blue Pacific, to strengthen our approach to human security.

An Ocean of Peace

We see, too, the rules-based order that had provided stability for so long under threat.

The Pacific has become a geostrategic arena in the last decade or so.

A multitude of interests, many not in congruence with each other, collide.

There is no end in sight.  And the chances of miscalculation are high.

This is why I have been advocating for the Blue Pacific to be declared an Ocean of Peace.

Together, we exercise sovereign authority over a very large part of the globe.

I believe it is fitting therefore that at a time of geo-strategic tension, economic uncertainty, and a changing climatic environment, we, who are the ‘custodians of the ocean’ welcome the proposal that the Pacific is an Ocean of Peace and agree to adopt a number of high-level principles, to guide efforts to realise this ambition and embed peace as a cornerstone of future policies and strategies.

An Ocean of Peace must reflect The Pacific Way. The concept recognises that whilst core values and a Pacific identify are shared across the region, local customs and understandings vary. Humility, quiet leadership, reconciliation and communication run through these definitions.

So whoever enters the Pacific region will be compelled to tone down and tune in to the ways of the Pacific.

The Ocean of Peace will be the Blue Pacific’s contribution to world order.

Our Blue Pacific region and our peoples will be the very emblems of peace.

My government has been working hard on developing the Ocean of Peace concept.

I will be presenting these ideas to my fellow Forum Leaders when we gather in Tonga in August for this year’s Forum Leaders meeting.

As we refine our proposal, I welcome the Conference’s ideas for how we can ensure the Blue Pacific is truly an Ocean of Peace.

National security strategies

I congratulate those countries which have decided to embark on the voyage of creating their national security strategies.

And I congratulate those countries which have decided to review their existing strategies because of new circumstances and new understandings.

Fiji is on this voyage too, through our National Security and Defence Review process. This work is preceded by the development of Fiji’s first Foreign Policy White Paper which will define our values and interests. From these bases we stand shoulder to shoulder with you as part of the Pasifika Vuvale, and how we will project ourselves to the world.

This strategy represents a pivotal step in our journey towards a secure, stable and prosperous Fiji.

The voyage ahead…

Sisters and brothers, there is a great voyage ahead.

We must build a great drua or waka together.

We must work together to safeguard our Blue Pacific for this generation and those to come.

We have our very own Pacific Way of Leadership to guide us.

The Pacific Way reminds us of where we have been: our traditions, our languages, our cultural values, our faith; the things we must take into the future with us.

And the Pacific Way reminds us of where we want to go: of our care and concern for the next generation, and the world we want to leave for them.

We have the regional agreements, too, which bring us together for collective action.

We have the Boe Declaration on Regional Security, which declared the Pacific to be a region of peace.

And we have the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, our regional guide to the future.

As Secretary General Waqa said here, at his welcome ceremony on 14 June, we are a region which promotes stability and security with a culture of love and respect.

The leaders who built our regional family house have been visionaries.

If anything, their voices carry over the waves the message: we need each other more than ever.

And when I see all of your beautiful bula shirts, I am reminded of the stars which bind us as we go on these great voyages together!

Now, I want to leave you with one humble suggestion.

This Conference name of “Pacific Regional and National Security Conference – A dialogue about Pacific security cooperation to 2050” is rather long!

Could I suggest renaming it “The Suva Dialogue”?

We will be very pleased to have you back in Suva for your important discussions next year. You will be made to feel very welcome!

My best wishes to each of you for a successful Conference.

To the Suva Dialogue, and the voyage ahead!

Enjoy the warm hospitality of Fiji.

May God bless Fiji and may God bless the Pacific.


– END –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Stories

Media Releases - 24 Jun 2024

REMARKS: Professor Dave Peebles, Opening remarks at the Pacific Regional National Security Conference press conference, Monday 24 June

Good morning, thank you all for joining us, we’re grateful for your time. Please allow me to introduce my friends: Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, the Director General of the Forum Fisheries Agency Mrs Roline Tekon, the National Security Advisor for Vanuatu Mr Maara Tetava, the National Security Director for Cook Islands Ms Anna Naupa, previously the…

Media Releases - 23 Jun 2024

MEDIA RELEASE: Pacific security community gathers to map polycrisis and path to 2050

  22 June 2024, Suva – Pacific security community representatives will gather in Suva next week for the Pacific Regional and National Security Conference (PRNSC), an important forum to address the region’s pressing security challenges. The inaugural conference will map the current and future regional security threats and support the implementation of the 2050 Strategy…