The Pacific Islands Forum has moved to calm the row over who should be the next Secretary General by deciding to draw up a job description and inviting applicants.
The slection procedure will then be discussed by leaders at next year's meeting, whihc is being held in New Zealand.
Previously, Secretary General have been confirmed by consensus.
Many island nations had objected to suggestions that a former Australian diplomat, Greg Urwin, be considered for the job.
There has been a thirty year tradition that neither New Zealand, Australia or Fiji should take the top position.
The current Secretary General, Noel Levy, who will stand down in 2004, is from Papua New Guinea.