3 February, 2017

Strengthening and amplifying diverse Pacific civil society voices and increasing collaboration will be the focal point of discussions by CSO representatives meeting in Suva Fiji from 6 to 8 February.

The Dialogue will explore ways to build an organised Pacific small island led regional network of diverse human rights based civil society including groups focused on social justice, sustainable development, environment and climate change, universal human rights, women-led, youth led, LGBTQI and feminist groups, and more.

Secretariat to the PACCOM Working Group is the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM). FWRM Executive Director Ms Nalini Singh shared about one of the objectives of the dialogue, “This dialogue will provide space for NGO representatives to discuss the realities of diverse social organizing civil society within the Pacific small island states and explore a mechanism that can better reflect diversity which can be heard regionally and internationally.”

Working Group member and Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality Fiji Political Adviser Ms Noelene Nabulivou said, “Civil society in Pacific small island countries and territories are as diverse as our region. When we look at the many challenges facing Pacific people and the world, we need to be ever stronger in our collective analysis, advocacy, communication and social organising. PACCOM will assist many Pacific Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) community led, national and regional civil society groups to work better with communities, each other, governments and CROP agencies. We will certainly try!”

The three-day Pacific CSO Organising Mechanism (PACCOM) dialogue is supported by European Union funded Non-State Actors Programme implemented by Pacific Islands Forum Secretaria (PIFS).

The European Union Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, H.E Andrew Jacobs said: ''The European Union is proud to support this dialogue. An empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and is an asset in itself. Civil society is a key partner in the European Union's development work around the world."

''By bringing CSOs and social movements together, the project will create a voice for diversity, one that can be heard, one that will have a lasting impact. Discussions like this one give a chance to smaller CSOs working in women's rights, youth, and LGBTIQ rights, to create avenues for diversity. They create a space for CSOs to speak freely and share their thoughts, something essential in the Pacific context,'' added Ambassador Jacobs.

The three-day consultation will bring together 19 participants from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and the Marshall Islands. It has been organised by a regional working group including Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, DIVA for Equality, Pacific Youth Council, Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI) and Tonga Leiti Association who were chosen by over 30 civil society groups from the region to take this work forward to an initial meeting.

END