The Pacific Elders’ Voice is extremely concerned with the turn of events in New Caledonia, leading to unrest and loss of life and livelihoods.

We urge a speedy resolution to the situation through dialogue and underscore the importance of listening to indigenous Kanak voices and the Pacific wide support for self-determination. We call for the peaceful and positive response to Kanaky aspirations. PEV strongly supports indigenous self-determination as a core principle to be applied wherever political status remains an issue in the islands of the Pacific.

In our letter to President Emanuele Macron in May 2021, almost 3 years to this date, the PEV had urged the President “to be open to the voice of the leaders of the Kanak peoples and show consideration and respect for their wishes. We urged this so that the situation did not turn to violence and that dialogue remained open. We further urged that whatever decision was made for the future of the peoples of New Caledonia, it was made under the auspices of a fair, just, transparent, and peaceful Referendum”.

We did this based on our understanding that the proposed Third Referendum under the Noumea Accord scheduled for the 12th December 2021 was not supported by the indigenous peoples of New Caledonia. We completely supported their request to defer the Third Referendum following the surge in COVID-19 cases until all mourning protocols had been adhered too, both at time of burial and throughout the traditional mourning period.

As we know the 3rd referendum proceeded without the participation of the Kanak people who comprise 40 percent of the population, resulting in a victory for the “no” vote.

Decisions are being made in Paris without meaningful consultation, participation and sensitivities of a large segment of the New Caledonia population. It is widely perceived that this is done to marginalise the Kanaky quest for sovereignty over their country, and is a manifestation of the French ‘colonial’ manipulation.

The situation is clearly unsustainable and needs urgent attention by Pacific stakeholders, governments and international organisations, including the UN.

The Pacific Elders’ Voice stands ready to assist in fostering dialogue and progress to ensure the resolution of this long-standing situation in New Caledonia, that is threatening its peace and progress, as well as ensure justice for the Kanaky people in their quest for dignity and human rights.

We urge all involved Parties to act responsibly to deal with maturity, invoking our “Pacific Way’ in this challenging time of crisis.