At their 2009 Meeting in Cairns, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders noted that sexual and gender-based violence was a risk to human security and a potential destabilising factor for communities and societies alike. Leaders also acknowledged that SGBV remained pervasive across the Pacific even though its prevalence often went underreported, and urged the recognition of its prevalence in the Pacific at all levels of community, whether in the domestic context or during conflict and post conflict situations. Leaders’ mandated the Secretariat and Forum members at the highest level, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, to raise awareness of the seriousness of sexual and gender based violence and its impact on the Pacific, and to establish firmly on the political agendas of Forum members the issue of SGBV.
In September and October 2009, the Forum Secretariat consulted relevant stakeholders (development partner agencies and civil society) to determine the work currently underway in the region, identify gaps and ascertain how best the Forum could fill those gaps and/or contribute to ongoing work in the region. In its consultations the Secretariat also sought advice on how best it could contribute toward addressing SGBV in the region. Overwhelmingly, responses indicated appreciation at the opportunity for greater political level exposure and involvement in Forum member countries, with a recurring suggestion to ensure that the issue was kept on the agenda of high level Forum meetings.
The Forum Secretariat reported to the 2010 Forum Regional Security Committee meeting, which, among other things, endorsed a recommendation to establish a Reference Group on SGBV to assist the Secretariat and support national efforts in taking forward the mandate from Leaders in 2009 on this issue.
The 2010 Forum Leaders meeting in Port Vila also commended actions in the region, particularly by national governments, to take forward their direction at Cairns in 2009 to address SGBV, and acknowledged the initiative of the FRSC to recommend the establishment of a Reference Group on SGBV to assist the Forum Secretariat and support national efforts.
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