The Fijian Government fully supports the Regional Meeting for Chemical Emergency Response, Planning and Management for Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), and the pursuit of a chemical weapons-free region.

While opening the meeting in Nadi, Permanent Secretary for Defence and National Security, Manasa Lesuma noted the importance for Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) member states to implement national mechanisms that would effectively address chemical incidents.

“As Small Island developing States within our region, we remain susceptible to the illicit trade of chemicals for ill intentions, given the vast ocean space that exists between our nations, the porous nature of our borders and our limited resources,” he noted.

“As non-possessor States, the repercussion of a chemical incident would be extremely damaging to our respective islands and the region as a whole. It is on that notion that we are to collectively reflect on our national chemical emergency strategies in place, establish partnership amongst the region and share best practices to ensure the effective implementation of the Convention.”

Mr Lesuma said progression of this implementation is measured by developing a robust and clearly defined chemical emergency response capacities for the Pacific.

As the new head of Fiji’s national authority, he reiterated his commitment to the CWC and acknowledged the increasing and emerging threats to regional peace and security, and thus, the necessity of working with key organizations such as the PIF, Oceania Customs Organization and the Melanesian Spearhead Group.