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FOCUS March 1997 Volume 7

The Pacific Charter

The Third Pacific Dialogue issued a document entitled "The Pacific Charter" that promotes three main points: Pacific Peace; Pacific Prosperity; and Pacific Celebration of Civilizations.

On Pacific Peace, the charter states that peace is a prerequisite for all progress. Whatever causes domestic tension, all states in the Pacific must commit themselves unequivocally to the struggle for social justice. Opportunities cannot be reserved for the favored few. They must be shared by all. The struggle for social justice is at the core of the unfinished agenda of every country in the Pacific.

The Pacific nations must find the golden mean between the individualO~s rights and obligations and the communityO~s concerns; and in the economic realm, they must find the means pragmatically and effectively to develop markers that are ever more productive.

One of the basic imperatives is to ensure the dignity of the human person and the opportunities to realize his or her potentials. It is every governmentO~s duty to advance all the social, economic, cultural, political and civil rights of the human person - even as they must contribute to the creation of societies where the responsibilities of citizens are fully recognized and properly discharged. All nations of the Pacific must champion human rights and responsibilities.

One of the norms for attaining peace in the region is the respect for the rights of peoples freely to determine their own political, economic and social system.

On Pacific Prosperity, the charter states:

"We need a change of mindset, We must not be narrowly nationalistic. In this Pacific age of deep interdependence and globalisation, and given our aspiration to create a Pacific of friends, it is a 'prosper thy neighbour' attitude that will serve our vital economic interests and the vital interests of our own citizens. In the new age of increasingly borderless cooperation and interdependence, neighbours are partners in prosperity, to be embraced to be empowered."

"The market economy, which has shown its ability to unleash the spirit of entrepreneurship in ordinary people and to bind our economies in networks of mutual benefit, needs to be widened and deepened. In its finest form, it combines the creativity and vitality of individual enterprise with a balanced care for the interests of the larger community."

"We believe not only in a Pacific that is open to the economies of the Pacific, but also in a Pacific open to the economies of the rest of the world."

On Pacific Celebration of Civilizations, the charter emphasizes the need for more understanding among the different peoples in the region through dialogue. And inorder to have a good dialogue, genuine exchange and mutual learning, "...we need to leave our bigotries at the door, to examine our prejudices, to check our arrogance, to enhance our humility and to declare a ceasefire on the hectoring that generates heat but little light and the intimidation that extracts not concession but fierce retort."

But the mere absence of war of words and clash of civilizations is not enough. And coexistence is not enough. The charter believes in

"...celebration of civilizations where we value diversity whilst seeking unity within that diversity, where we each fortify the values and the ways which make us strong and that make us civilised in our own light, while partaking of the values and the ways of all our Pacific partners which will enrich us, which will make us stronger and which will take our civilisation to new heights."

The dialogue was organized by the Pacific Charter Group. It was held in Kuala Lumpur in November last year. The group is composed of government officials, legislators, academics and military officer from Malaysia, China, the US, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines and south Korea. The host for this meeting was Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia.

For further information contact: Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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