25 Oct 2005

NGOs reject claims they're exceeding mandate in push for greater say on Pacific Plan

11:23 am on 25 October 2005

Pacific NGOs reject a claim they are exceeding their mandate by demanding the Pacific Plan for greater regional cooperation is put on hold.

NGOs made the call formally in Port Moresby on the eve of the region's leaders meeting in their annual summit where they are expected to endorse the Plan.

The NGOs make a series of demands in a formal statement, including that work on the Pacific Plan stop until there has been more consultation and members of civil society have become are involved in all stages of the process

But Anote Tong, the Kiribati president, says while NGOs have a key role to play they have to be careful not to the ioverplay their mandate and recognise it is goverments who are elected to run countries.

But Rae Julian, of New Zealand's Council for International Development, says the NGOs who drew up the statement for the Forum leaders have the backing of groups from throughout their countries.

"...So the mandate we have is from our members and from the people our members work with, and I think if you were to ask each of us how many affiliates we have, and how many people are involved with affiliates, you would find that for each of the countries you're ending up right down in the villages, and you're getting the voices of the people in the villages."