Melanesian Spearhead Group marks 35 years of existence


The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat marked 35 years of MSG’s existence at a ceremony which was officiated by the Vanuatu Prime Minister, Ishmael Kalsakau Tuesday.

In his keynote address, Director General, Leonard Louma, welcomed the Prime Minister and his entourage saying his presence was significant as he is also Chairman of the MSG, and Chief of the land on which the Secretariat sits.

DG Louma said the Secretariat is confident that under Kalsakau’s Chairmanship, “we can take our cooperative relationship in MSG to a higher level”.

Vanuatu he said has been a leader, in its own right, within the MSG.

“Under your leadership and Chairmanship, I know that the “spearhead” in the MSG spear will be sharpened again to defend and protect our interests. But more importantly, if needed, can be used to pierce through blockages in search of solutions to challenges that confront our membership,” he stated.

MSG he added, has a proud history of enterprise; pushing through issues in our region that may seem too difficult for others to subscribe to or comprehend. MSG has successfully prosecuted those difficult issues, he added.

The Secretariat he said, notes that Vanuatu has proposed two very noble initiatives that fall in the same ‘pedigree’ of difficult issues – the ICJ initiative on climate change responsibility and the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Fossil Fuel. These are the sorts of issues that sets MSG apart from the others in the region.

The Secretariat is excited over these two issues and he assured that it will do whatever it can to assist the MSG membership support these initiatives and garner support from the international community.

In his keynote address, Prime Minister Kalsakau said at the time of MSG’s inception, many cynics were sceptical about our vision, relevance and cohesion as a group.

“Many political observers derided our sub-regional efforts in cooperation as divisive and destructive to regional cooperation. We have proven the cynics and sceptics wrong,” he stated.

The Prime Minister stated that MSG is still viable and “we are still forging ahead with the pursuit of our social, political, economic and security interests underscoring our resoluteness, tenacity and resilience as Melanesian people.

“Sub-regionalism is no longer frowned upon but now regarded as a building block for stronger regional cooperation as exemplified in the PIF regional architecture changes incorporated in the Blue Ocean Continent. MSG sub-regionalism has been vindicated,” he said.

PM Kalsalau paid special tribute to past Leaders of the MSG for their steadfast resolve, unwavering commitment and dedication to the noble objectives of cooperation within the MSG.

He said that while the MSG has achieved a lot like the successful inscription of New Caledonia on the decolonisation list in the United Nations; Leaders signing of the MSG Treaty on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Cultures; and the Skills Movement Scheme in 2012 to facilitate employment of our people across the MSG borders, among many others, there is still much to do.

“MSG is the largest grouping, by any measure, in the Pacific Islands Forum family. We must assert a leadership role in the region and “spearhead” initiatives as our name suggests,” he emphasised.

He stated that during his tenure as Chairman, he wants the Secretariat to assist Members bring to a closure many of the outstanding issues including the operationalisation of the MSG Trade Agreement; promotion of the Skills Movement Scheme (SMS) so our people can fully take advantage of it; and the required domestic legislation on the Traditional Knowledge and Expression of Culture to be enacted in the other MSG countries, among other issues.

“As we journey into the future, we must remain committed to stand in solidarity and in unity to forge meaningful pathways forward for the benefit of all our people and where no-one is left behind,” he added.