+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports

Pacific Islands (Micronesia, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu)

Key developments since May 2004: The Executive Branch of the Federated States of Micronesia completed a review of the Mine Ban Treaty and intends to send the agreement to the Congress for accession in September 2005. In December 2004, Tuvalu voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 59/84, and Palau abstained; this was the first time either nation had voted on the annual pro-Mine Ban Treaty resolution.

Six of the 16 Pacific Forum member states are not yet States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty.[1 ] Four of these non-States Parties—Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu—need to accede to the treaty. Two others have signed the Mine Ban Treaty but not yet ratified (Cook Islands and Marshall Islands).[2 ] Since 1997, the ICBL, States Parties, UN agencies, and international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have provided these governments with information on the Mine Ban Treaty’s obligations—obligations that are described as minimal for these countries in terms of financial costs, administrative burden and participation in international meetings. Unlike other regional fora, the 2004 annual Pacific Islands Forum failed to include in its final statement any reference to the Mine Ban Treaty or its First Review Conference.[3 ]

Many of these Pacific Island states have not responded to Landmine Monitor requests for updated information in 2004 and 2005.

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. On 5 July 2005, a government official informed Landmine Monitor that the Executive Branch had completed a review of the treaty and expected to submit it to Congress for “ratification” in its next session in September 2005.[4 ] This welcome development was unexpected, given that the FSM had not previously expressed support for the treaty. The FSM is one of the small number of states that has abstained from voting on every annual pro-Mine Ban Treaty UNGA resolution since 1997, including UNGA Resolution 59/84 in December 2004. The FSM has stated that it has never used, produced or stockpiled antipersonnel mines.[5]

The Republic of Palau has not acceded to Mine Ban Treaty. In December 2004, Palau abstained from voting on UNGA Resolution 59/84, the first time it had a recorded vote on the annual pro-ban resolution; it has been absent from previous votes. In February 2004, a government official stated that Palau was “taking every step to make sure that it will soon join” the treaty.[6 ] In July 2003, the Minister of State, Temmy L. Schmull, said that accession was under consideration, but “there are implications to our nationals serving in the US Armed Forces.”[7 ] Palau, as well as FSM and the Marshall Islands, have close economic, political, and military ties with the United States, a non-signatory to the Mine Ban Treaty, as defined by the Compact of Free Association.

Palau is not believed to have ever produced, transferred, stockpiled or used antipersonnel mines. While it was not present at the First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty held in Nairobi in November-December 2004, Palau sent representatives to treaty meetings in 2003 and 2004.[8 ] Palau has reported that there is a considerable amount of unexploded ordnance from World War II “in remote terrains of Palau” that the country “does not have the capability to find and safely remove.”[9]

The Kingdom of Tonga has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. In June 2003, a government official indicated that steps were underway for the Cabinet and Privy Council to approve accession of the agreement.[10 ] In March 2001, an official said that the Prime Minister had “initiated a process to accede to the treaty and fully supports the ban on antipersonnel mines.”[11 ] As in previous years, Tonga voted in favor of UNGA Resolution 59/84. The government has confirmed that Tonga has never produced, transferred or stockpiled antipersonnel mines.[12]

Tuvalu has not yet acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. In December 2004, Tuvalu voted in favor of UNGA Resolution 59/84, the first time it has voted on the annual pro-ban resolution.[13 ] In January 2004, a representative of the Prime Minister’s office listed the main obstacles to joining as “limited manpower and financial resources to meet other pressing demands on our budget.”[14 ] Tuvalu has not participated in any Mine Ban Treaty meetings, but an NGO representative attended the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in September 2003. Tuvalu has stated that it does not use, produce, export, import or stockpile antipersonnel mines, and that transfer of the weapon through its territory is not allowed.[15 ]

[1 ]Ten Pacific Forum member states are States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty: Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, which ratified on 16 September 2005 (see Vanuatu report in this edition of Landmine Monitor). The Forum’s three observer-member states are Timor Leste, a State Party to the treaty, and French Polynesia and New Caledonia (territories of France, which is a State Party).

[2 ]See report on these states in this edition of Landmine Monitor.

[3 ]See, “Pacific Forum Press Statement 56-04, “Thirty-Fifth Pacific Islands Forum Communique,” Apia, Samoa, 5-7 August 2004.

[4 ]Email to Geraldine Canham-Harvey, Landmine Monitor researcher, from Jackson T. Soram, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs, Federated States of Micronesia, 5 July 2005.

[5] Letter from M.J. Mace, Assistant Attorney General, Federated States of Micronesia, 11 December 1998

[6 ]Statement by Palau, Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 9 February 2004.

[7 ]Email from Temmy L. Schmull, Minister of State, Palau, 7 July 2003.

[8 ]Palau attended the Fifth Meeting of States Parties held in September 2003 in Bangkok, and the intersessional Standing Committee meetings held in Geneva in February 2004.

[9] Statement by Palau, Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 9 February 2004.

[10 ]Fax from Suka Mangisi, Legal Officer, for the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Tonga, 5 June 2003.

[11 ]Interview with Suka Mangisi, Legal Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tonga, in Wellington, New Zealand, 27 March 2001.

[12] Fax from Falekava Kupu, for the Acting Chief Secretary and Secretary for Cabinet, Prime Minister’s Office, 14 August 2001.

[13 ]While the UN accepted Tuvalu as a member on 5 September 2000, the country was absent from previous votes on the annual pro-ban UNGA resolutions.

[14 ]Letter from Panapasi Nelesone, Secretary to Government, Office of the Prime Minister, 15 January 2004.

[15 ]Letter from Bill P. Teo, Office of the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, 15 April 2002.