The 26th annual PILON meeting was held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, from 6 to 10 December 2007. The meeting was the inaugural meeting under the new title, as agreed by members at the 25th meeting in Kiribati in February 2007.
The meeting was attended by Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The meeting was also attended by the following observer members: the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the Pacific International Maritime Law Association.
The key issue for consideration at the meeting centred on a discussion paper titled Establishing the Pacific Islands Law Officers’ Network (PILON) as a Regional Organisation [PDF 220KB], which was prepared by the Secretariat. The paper outlines a number of proposals for formalisation of the organisation and presented a Charter and Rules of Procedure.
Members agreed to continue as an association of senior law officers of the Pacific and adopt a Charter [PDF 55KB] and Rules of Procedure [PDF 46KB]. The Charter and Rules of Procedure establish a structure and govern the operation of the organisation. PILON will continue to be supported by a Secretariat, which will be hosted by the Australian Government Attorney‑General’s Department in Canberra until the 27th meeting.
The meeting endorsed the development of a Strategic Plan which focuses on the following areas:
- law and justice sector capacity building, training and mentoring
- good governance measures in coordination with the work of regional organisations and member countries, including legislative developments
- focus on the particular vulnerabilities of small island States in the Pacific, and
- improve information-sharing among member countries.
The plan is to be developed by the interim Secretariat in the coming months and will be used to guide the future work of PILON.
PILON adopted general principles for a work plan, to be finalised by the interim Secretariat for endorsement by PILON members. The work plan will guide the interim Secretariat and the Executive Committee in the coming year and includes the following:
- International Criminal Court – The meeting considered the issues associated with countries in the Pacific acceding to the Rome Statute. Members agreed that those Pacific nations not yet a party should consider accession, and tasked the Secretariat to identify technical assistance to help with the implementation.
- Extradition and Mutual Assistance – Following the review of a Secretariat background paper on extradition and mutual assistance and its tables of extradition relations, PILON established a committee to examine the evidentiary basis for extradition and mutual assistance models and to examine a means of facilitating extradition and mutual assistance across the region with a view to harmonising standards where possible.
- Training and Capacity building – The Secretariat will identify gaps in training and capacity building in the region with a view to establishing new programs and opportunities for exchange and attachment tailored to the needs of Pacific nations.