By Finau Limuloa
A milestone statement on IDRL at the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting, held in the Cook Islands in August, sent ripples of excitement throughout Pacific National Societies and marked a turning point in the IFRC’s engagement with the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). The PIF counts 16 independent and self-governing States in the Pacific region among its members and is the largest and arguably the most influential regional organization in the Pacific. The PIF Secretariat is based in Suva, Fiji and its mandate is delivered through the annual Leaders’ Communiqués and ministerial meeting decisions.
This year, the Cook Islands Government, with technical support from the Cook Islands Red Cross, determined to bring the issue of legal preparedness for international disaster assistance to the heads of government. National Societies from across the Pacific contributed through educating their governmental counterparts.
As a result of the leaders’ discussion, this year’s Communiqué included call from the prime ministers to all Pacific governments to “consider the International Disaster Response Law Guidelines.... and to take appropriate measures to strengthen their national policy and institutional and legal frameworks in collaboration with their National Red Cross Societies, IFRC, the UN and other relevant partners.”
This decision clears the way for a stronger collaboration between the IFRC and PIF on the issue of IDRL. It is expected that a MOU setting out their joint work will be signed in the coming weeks.