Headquarters agreement signed between ESCAP and Government of the Republic of Fiji

An important headquarters agreement between the United Nations and the Government of the Republic of the Fiji Islands on the establishment of the Pacific Operations Centre of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Fiji, was signed on 12 May 2008 by H.E. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Fiji, and Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. The signing ceremony was held at the ESCAP headquarters in Bangkok.

ESCAP’s Pacific Operations Centre (EPOC) was established in 1984 in Port Vila, Vanuatu. EPOC was relocated in 2005 from Vanuatu to the Fiji, as mandated by the Commission at its 60th session held in Shanghai, China, in April 2004, to enable more effective collaboration with regional partners. The main objective of the Centre is to support Pacific Island Developing Countries in their efforts to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. Considering the vast diversity of the Asian and Pacific region, the Centre plays a vital role in providing analysis and solutions which take into account the specific needs of the Pacific Island countries.

The agreement, which formally sets out the roles and responsibilities of both parties, highlights their commitment towards the economic development, social progress and ecological sustainability of the Pacific. The agreement also symbolizes the strong commitment of the parties towards strengthening regional cooperation and the subregional focus of ESCAP.

In her statement delivered on the occasion, Ms. Heyzer reiterated that ESCAP would continue to strengthen the Pacific dimension of its work, and focus its activities on key challenges faced by the Pacific Island countries and potential solutions with a focus on South-South cooperation. The signing of the agreement was a significant step towards strengthening the subregional component of ESCAP’s work.

Foreign Minister Ratu Epeli Nailatikau welcomed the signing of the agreement and assured ESCAP of full cooperation and support for its work. He emphasized the importance of cooperation and collaboration amongst the Pacific Islands, as well as the importance of South-South cooperation throughout the region, to which ESCAP accords high priority.