Rarotonga, Cook Islands, 23 August 2023 - Cook Islands Prime Minister, the Honourable Mark Brown, and Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Ms Tepaeru Herrmann met this week with newly appointed United Nations Resident Coordinator (UNRCO) Mr Themba Kalua in Rarotonga.
Mr Kalua is based in Samoa and is in the Cook Islands to present his letter of credence to Prime Minister Brown and to attend the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) National Consultations that will be held Thursday this week. Mr Kalua succeeds Ms Simona Marinescu who served as UNRCO for the Multi-Country Office based in Apia.
The focus of discussions was on the positioning of the Cook Islands in the United Nations (UN) system to ensure possible UN support to the Cook Islands for the Cook Islands development priorities delivered to the Cook Islands in a timely and substantive manner, including through key UN bodies like the World Health Organisation (WHO), United National Education Science and Cultural Office (UNESCO), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the Food and Agriculture Office (FAO) or via other UN affiliated entities.
Both sides committed to elevating effort to ensure greater assistance towards grass-roots transformative programs, often delivered by Cook Islands civil society representatives that are aligned with the Cook Islands' priorities as set out in the National Sustainable Development Plan.
Discussions included issues such as climate action, tourism, Covid-19, and the Cook Islands revised submission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf presented to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in New York last week.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI), via its Treaties, Multilaterals and Oceans Division, lead on relationship management with the UNRCO.
MFAI Secretary Tepaeru Herrmann said: “The Cook Islands over the years have worked closely with the UN in climate change, disaster resilience, and environmental protection as well as gender equality, sustainable and inclusive economic empowerment, and governance and community engagement and mutually benefited from arrangements via the Global Environment Facility and technical assistance that the Ministry of Health, Internal Affairs, Emergency Management Cook Islands and Parliament have utilised.”
"While we greatly value being part of the UN family, its multi-agency nature with substantive bureaucracy can be overwhelming for small administrations such as the Cook Islands. We therefore look to UNRCO Kalua to assume responsibility for the coordination of UN agencies that work with the Cook Islands, and draw to our attention where there are specific partnership opportunities and support aligned with our national priorities. This requires, at a minimum, an in-country desk for the UNRCO who can liaise with MFAI and relevant line agencies in the management of the various UN agencies that do business with the Cook Islands."