17 Feb 2004

New head of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat says more advice should have been given over the S

6:24 am on 17 February 2004

The new secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, Greg Urwin, says the body could have done a better job alerting the region to the problems faced by Solomon Islands prior to the Regional Assistance Mission being dispatched.

Mr Urwin says a survey of the Forum's effectiveness by an Eminent Person's Group has backed earlier calls that it assume a greater leadership role.

The Group's recommendations have since been through a reflective group and a draft report will shortly be sent to Pacific leaders for consideration.

Greg Urwin won't yet be drawn on specific recommendations but he says the Eminent Person's Group found a desire for the Forum to be more pro-active.

He says the Solomons Islands example is instructive in this regard.

"Expressing a purely personal view, the forum has played an admirable role in response to the Solomons as we see it now. But we did quite a lot of learning on the job and I think quite a lot of people would possibly say that the Forum might have been more at the forefront earlier than it was."