16 Jun 2015

Academic says future shape of MSG hinges on West Papua

10:36 pm on 16 June 2015

A Solomon Islands academic says the unity of the Melanesian Spearhead Group hinges on how its leaders vote on West Papuan membership in the upcoming leaders summit in Honiara.

Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders

MSG leaders at the previous leaders summit in Noumea Photo: RNZI

Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka who is an associate professor at the University of Hawaii's school of Pacific Island Studies says it seems MSG leaders can either make a moral decision to support the indigenous people of West Papua or an economic one and choose to strengthen ties with Indonesia.

But Mr Kabutaulaka says by far it is West Papuans who have the most to lose.

"They do not have any other avenues in terms of inter-governmental organisations to express themselves. They are not members of any international organisation. And this is an opportunity for them to become a member of an inter-governmental organisation. And it would be sad if the MSG shuts them out."