Every now and then we get questions asked of us about what exactly is the MSG and what role does it play in regional and global affairs and whether we are going to replace this and that regional organization.  I believe these questions have their roots in a growing recognition of the MSG’s gradual expansion as an organization and increasing engagements with regional and international partners. Whether these questions have genuine intentions or meant to provoke reactions for what we do are of little concern to us.  For we have specific functions and responsibilities, all geared especially to serve the interests of MSG members. 

We are very clear about these functions and responsibilities and our endeavours  to engage with regional and international partners are premised on improving our capacity to serve our members better.  What exactly does this mean?

Perhaps an example will better demonstrate this point.  Historically the MSG was established to among others support the Front de Liberation NationaleKanaketSocialiste (FLNKS) of New Caledonia with its push for decolonization of the Territory.  In order to be effective with this support, the MSG has to engage with regional authorities and international partners at bilateral and multilateral levels to spread the message and secure support at those levels in order that there is both regional and international recognition for the cause of the FLNKS.  Regional recognition and support is necessary to broaden the support base for the cause of the FLNKS at home while at the international front, it is essential for obtaining UN recognition in order that the cause of the FLNKS is sanctioned under international law through the UN decolonization process.  These engagements have but one ultimate aim: to support the FLNKS.

These undertakings to engage broadly to achieve a particular outcome adheres to the adage that numbers can make a difference.  In this particular case, there has been significant inroads gained consequently and under the Noumea Accord, the road ahead for the FLNKS towards achieving their long-held aspiration for independence is within their grasp and there is hope that from 2014, the future which the FLNKS seeks for their people will be finally determined.  

Here is an example where the MSG has been influential and active both at the regional and international levels.  In relation to the geo-political and socio-economic challenges, the MSG has natural capacity to play an active role in regional affairs.  We have the bigger economies and populations which can be an opportunity for the whole region.  The reason why Melanesia is not playing an active role in regional affairs at the present is partly a result of the Pacific Way and the regional architecture for regional cooperation is not geared to make regionalism work and therefore Melanesia, as do Polynesia and Micronesia, are still more inward looking.  But this is not unexpected as every country in the Pacific is still pursuing nation building strategies aimed at strengthening national economies and governance institutions.

For the MSG countries, it is only a matter of time before they are able as a group to be more influential in regional affairs.  This is not wishful thinking because the MSG cooperation is founded on a practical trade agreement that is working and the architecture for MSG cooperation is more elaborate than the rest of the region.I can even dare to say that this will be possible within very near future.

In terms of international affairs, we have long accepted that we cannot change the world but we can contribute to addressing global challenges with our natural endowments especially with our people and natural resources.  Our contributions to world peace, global food security, energy security and eradication of poverty are already noted in the archives of history.  We see these contributions increasing in the years ahead as we join with the rest of the international community to make the world a better place for all.
So will the MSG replace another regional organization?  Not by design.  We are a young organization still finding our place in the region and the world.  We aim to be stronger but only to serve our members better. 

As we endeavour to find our place in the region and the world, we know who our friends are and will work with them to get there.  The opportunities are unlimited and yes, we may be small but big things happen with small steps. 

Mr. Peter Forau
Former Director General, MSG Secretariat
21 Sept 2011 - 31 December 2015