16 Oct 2004

Forum secretary-general says region not going to hell

8:22 am on 16 October 2004

The secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, Greg Urwin, says the region is not going to hell as some pundits would have it.

He told delegates at a conference called "Securing a Peaceful Pacific", that characterising the region as one of failed states, weak governments and endemic corruption, is out of order.

Don Wiseman reports.

"Mr Urwin says it would be feckless to deny that parts of the Pacific face considerable challenges of this type, and the region's urgent effort is needed to overcome them. He says others face particular difficulties related to size, remoteness and resource limitation."

But he also says people need to see the stage the region has reached. He says some countries are looking round for more suitable ways to manage their affairs because the colonial structures they are left with, are often outdated.

He says this can be messy and protracted but is not necessarily wrong, and can give way to guarded optimism. Mr Urwin says it's only a problem if the people give up or it descends into conflict.

He's lauded the efforts of RAMSI in Solomon Islands as a genuinely shared regional objective, and he says the Forum's assistance to Nauru is an example of trying to prevent potential conflict.