Okole on scholarly visit to Hawaii

The National, Friday July 15th, 2016

Former chief of staff of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and one-time academic from the University of PNG, Dr Henry Okole, is on a visit of the East-West Centre in Hawaii.
Okole, who has been a Government consultant, was invited by the university to prepare a paper for the upcoming Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders (PICL) scheduled for Honolulu next month.
Okole has been requested to share his thoughts and insights as a staff of the ACP Secretariat from 2005 to 2010 when he worked with PNG statesman, Sir John Kaputin, who was then secretary-general.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is the current chairman of the PICL, having assumed the post in 2011 just prior to meetings with then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.
Part of the 2016 PICL agenda will focus on regional cooperation and regional architecture.
A mainstream issue for Pacific Island countries in recent times has been the implementation of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, which was adopted in 2013.
This was the latest undertaking by members of the Pacific Islands Forum who sought an appropriate architecture for the group as it transited from the 2005 Pacific Plan for strengthening regional cooperation and integration.
In 2012, at their annual Pacific Islands Forum in Cook Islands, Pacific leaders called for a comprehensive review of the Pacific Plan.
The review, done under the leadership of former prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta produced the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.
The ACP Group has also been facing similar challenges in the Pacific Islands Forum, particularly on how it deals with issues such as climate change, compliance with trade regimes and aid effectiveness – quite apart from the question over its own existence as a multilateral entity beyond 2020.