Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

8 May 2001

Australia Hosts Pacific Islands Forum Small Arms Workshop

The Federal Government will host a major workshop on controlling the movement of small arms and light weapons in the Pacific region.  Up to 40 senior law enforcement and other officials from Pacific island countries, together with representatives of Japan, United States and New Zealand, will attend the workshop in Brisbane from 9 to 11 May.

The unregulated flow of even a limited number of such weapons can have a destabilising and destructive impact on small Pacific island communities.  This has been brought into sharp focus by the recent crisis in Solomon Islands and 10 years of conflict in Bougainville.

To help address this problem, the Prime Minister John Howard announced at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Tarawa last October that Australia would host a workshop. 

Funded by the Australian Government's Overseas Aid Agency (AusAID), the workshop will provide participants from Pacific island countries with targeted, practical advice to control the spread and use of small arms in the region and in their domestic jurisdictions.

Advancing Australia's national interest by enhancing regional stability is a major objective of Australia's overseas aid program. The workshop will contribute to this objective by covering issues such as enactment and enforcement of legislation, control of official armouries, intelligence sharing, border control and weapons surrender, safe storage and stockpiling, and destruction.

Pacific island countries to be represented at the workshop include the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

For further information:  David Apps 02 6261 2091

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