A professor of law in the region, Tony Angelo, says the Pacific Islands Forum needs to become a legal entity so it can function fully.
He says at the moment the regional grouping does not have the power to enforce agreements like the new Framework for Pacific Regionalism it launched last year.
Professor Angelo of New Zealand's Victoria University says the organisation's institutional identity rests with the Forum secretariat which only has powers to advise, research and consult.
He says not all Forum countries have ratified a proposal to shift the legal focus to the Forum itself so leaders' dealings and decisions have bite.
"There is no one voice. if we're talking (about) the European Union, it means ultimately (the EU) comes and it has to discuss the aid to the Pacific one by one. There's nobody else to sign off with."
Professor Angelo says nothing much is going to happen without such legal powers.