25 Oct 2005

Pacific NGO's seek Pacific Plan delay on eve of Forum opening

3:02 pm on 25 October 2005

Pacific NGOs have formally demanded that work on the Pacific Plan stop until there has been more consultation and members of civil society are involved in all stages of the process

The statement from the People's Forum comes as Pacific leaders prepare to endorse the Plan when their annual summit opens in Port Moresby tonight.

The Plan is pushing to expand several free trade deals but the NGOs want a freeze on all further trade commitments until there has been assessment of the likely impacts.

They are opposed to labour mobility unless there are agreements with local unions to protect worker's rights and they call for self determination for Papua and for the governments of the region to lobby the UN to revisit the Act of Free Choice.

Vaasilifiti Jackson of the Samoa umbrella group for NGOs, SUNGO, says despite the concerns, they still back the idea behind the Pacific Plan.

"But please slow down, please look into all the angles of our Pacific Plan to make sure that we are not repeating the same mistake that was made by the colonial powers and by our leaders for not accomodating all the areas and all the perspectives which impacted the life of the people."