Foreign relations of Tuvalu

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Main article: Tuvalu

This article is about the foreign relations of Tuvalu.

International organizational participation[edit]

Membership of the Commonwealth[edit]

Commonwealth of Nations

On 1 September 2000, Tuvalu became a full member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Since its independence in 1978, Tuvalu had been a special member of the Commonwealth, but without having any voting rights in the organization that brings together 54 countries which were mostly former colonies of Great Britain. Tuvalu's admission as a full member was approved by the members of the Commonwealth unanimously earlier in the year.

Membership of the United Nations[edit]

United Nations

See also: Tuvalu and the United Nations

Tuvalu became the 189th member of the United Nations on 17 September 2000.[1][2] At present, the country's Permanent Representative to the United Nations is Ambassador Aunese Makoi Simati.

Tuvalu notably played an active role in the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, attracting media and public attention with a proposed protocol which would have imposed deeper, legally binding emission cuts, including on developing nations. Following Tuvaluan delegate Ian Fry's "tear-jerking [speech] that prompted wild applause among the crowded Copenhagen conference floor", The Australian’s political editor commented that Tuvalu was "no longer small fry on the world stage".[3]

Regional organizational relations[edit]

Tuvalu is a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum, the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

Tuvalu participates in the operations of the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)[4] and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).[5] The Tuvaluan government, the US government, and the governments of other Pacific islands, are parties to the South Pacific Tuna Treaty (SPTT), entered into force in 1988. The current SPTT agreement expires on June 14, 2013.[6] Tuvalu is one of the eight signatories of the Nauru Agreement Concerning Cooperation In The Management Of Fisheries Of Common Interest which collectively controls 25-30% of the world's tuna supply and approximately 60% of the western and central Pacific tuna supply [1]. In May 2013 representatives from the United States and the Pacific Islands countries agreed to sign interim arrangement documents to extend the Multilateral Fisheries Treaty (which encompasses the South Pacific Tuna Treaty and Nauru Agreement) to confirm access to the fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific for US tuna boats for 18 months.[7][8]

In 1993, Tuvalu became a member of the Asian Development Bank. Tuvalu endorsed the Treaty of Rarotonga joining itself to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty in 1985. [2]

In 2004 Tuvalu provided police officers to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). Tuvaluan Police officers served as part of RAMSI's Participating Police Force (PPF).

In November 2011, Tuvalu was one of the eight founding members of Polynesian Leaders Group, a regional grouping intended to cooperate on a variety of issues including culture and language, education, responses to climate change, and trade and investment.[9][10][11] Tuvalu participates in the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which is a coalition of small island and low-lying coastal countries that have concerns about their vulnerability to the adverse effects of global climate change.[12] Under the Majuro Declaration, which was signed on 5 September 2013, Tuvalu has commitment to implement power generation of 100% renewable energy (between 2013 and 2020), which is proposed to be implemented using Solar PV (95% of demand) and biodiesel (5% of demand). The feasibility of wind power generation will be considered.[13]

International Organizations[edit]

In addition to its membership in the UN and the Commonwealth of Nations, outside the region, Tuvalu is a member or participant of the ACP (Lomé Convention), the Alliance of Small Island States, Asian Development Bank, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the G-77, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Development Association, the International Finance Corporation, the IMF, the International Maritime Organization, the International Olympic Committee, the ITU and the Universal Postal Union. While Tuvalu is not currently a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, it has observer status with admission and recognition still pending.

In July 2013 Tuvalu signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish the Pacific Regional Trade and Development Facility, which Facility originated in 2006, in the context of negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Pacific ACP States and the European Union. The rationale for the creation of the Facility being to improve the delivery of aid to Pacific island countries in support of the Aid-for-Trade (AfT) requirements. The Pacific ACP States are the countries in the Pacific that are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement with the European Union (which succeeded the Lomé Convention).[14]

Tuvalu is also a member of the following organizations:[15]

ACP, ADB, AOSIS, Commonwealth of Nations, FAO, IBRD (also known as the World Bank), IDA, IFRCS (observer), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ITU, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WHO.

Tuvalu is notable for its absence of membership is several major international organizations. For example, it is one of only four UN members that do not belong to the International Civil Aviation Organization; the other three nations are Dominica, Liechtenstein (which has no airports at all), and Niue. Similarly, Tuvalu is among only 10 UN members that are not members of the World Meteorological Organization and one of only 13 UN members that are not members of the International Finance Corporation. Moreover, Tuvalu is one of only 16 UN members that have neither member nor observers of the World Trade Organization. Finally, as with many other nations in Oceania, Tuvalu is not a member of Interpol or of the International Hydrographic Organization.

Relations with Other Nations[edit]

Consulates and Honorary Consulates[edit]

Tuvalu's only full embassies are its permanent mission to the United Nations in New York, its consulate in Switzerland and its High Commission in Fiji.[16] Tuvalu's mission to the United Nations also doubles as its embassy to the United States. Additionally, Tuvalu maintains honorary consulates in Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand, the Taiwan (Republic of China) and the United Kingdom.

The only nation with a resident embassy in Tuvalu is the Republic of China (Taiwan). France maintains an honorary consulate in Tuvalu. Australia maintains an Australian representative office of AusAid in the country. All three of these are located in Funafuti.

Relations with Australia[edit]


Australia has strong ties with Tuvalu. The official currency of Tuvalu from 1966-1976 was the Australian dollar, which strengthens the economic bonds between the two countries in particular. Since 1976, Tuvalu began issuing its own coinage (see Tuvaluan dollar) but the country continues to use Australian banknotes as official currency, and the value of the Tuvaluan currency is directly tied to the Australian dollar. In this regard, the Tuvaluan dollar is similar to the Faroese króna's relationship to the Danish krone as the Tuvaluan dollar is not an independent currency but has been assigned an ISO 4217 currency code, although it is treated as equivalent to the Australian dollar.

In August 2009, Australia signed a Pacific Partnership for Development between Australia and Tuvalu at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders held in Cairns, Australia. Australia was (along with New Zealand and the United Kingdom) one of the three founding donating countries to the Tuvalu Trust Fund.

Although Australia has no official embassy in Tuvalu, it regularly sends government representatives to the country. For example, the Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles visited Tuvalu in December 2010.[17]

Australia is a major aid donor to Tuvalu. In 1994, even before the Pacific Partnership between the two countries was signed, Australia donated a Pacific-class patrol boat (HMTSS Te Mataili) provided by Australia under the Pacific Patrol Boat Program for use by the Tuvaluan police force for search and rescue missions and maritime surveillance and fishery patrol.[18] Australia has agreed to provide its maintenance until 2024 as well as training for its operation. Australia's Defence Cooperation Program supports Tuvalu's maritime police force with training, fresh water and supplies. For 2010-11, Australia donated A$8.9 million (US $9.38 million) for education and vocational skills development, opportunities and participation in regional and international labour markets and targeted technical assistance in key central economic and oversight institutions.[18]

The government of Australia responded to the 2011 Tuvalu drought by working with New Zealand to supply temporary desalination plants;[19] Australia also provide water tanks as part of the longer term solution for the storage of available fresh water.[17]

Tuvaluans can participate in the Australian Pacific Seasonal Worker Program, which allows Pacific Islanders to obtain seasonal employment in the Australian agriculture industry, in particular cotton and cane operations; fishing industry, in particular aquaculture; and with accommodation providers in the tourism industry.[20]

Relations with New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand

New Zealand has strong ties with Tuvalu and was one of the three founding donating countries to the Tuvalu Trust Fund and continues as a major donor of aid and technical assistance to Tuvalu. The government of New Zealand responded to the fresh-water crisis caused by the 2011 Tuvalu drought by supplying temporary desalination plants and personnel to repair existing desalination plants.[21][22]

New Zealand has an annual quota of 75 Tuvaluans granted work permits under the Pacific Access Category, as announced in 2001.[23] The applicants register for the Pacific Access Category (PAC) ballots; the primary criteria is that the principal applicant must have a job offer from a New Zealand employer.[24] Tuvaluans also have access to seasonal employment in the horticulture and viticulture industries in New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Work Policy introduced in 2007 allowing for employment of up to 5,000 workers from Tuvalu and other Pacific islands.[25]

Relations with Kiribati[edit]


On 29 August 2012 an Agreement between Tuvalu and Kiribati concerning their Maritime Boundary, was signed by their respective leaders that determined the boundary as being seaward of Nanumea and Niutao in Tuvalu on the one hand and Tabiteuea, Tamana and Arorae in Kiribati on the other hand, along the geodesics connecting the points of latitude and longitude set out in the agreement.[26]

Relations with the United Kingdom[edit]

United Kingdom

Tuvalu has no diplomatic representation in the United Kingdom, but Tuvalu House in London serves a primarily consular role, and Tuvalu maintains an honorary consulate there.

The United Kingdom has shown a continuing interest in the welfare of Tuvalu and was (along with New Zealand and Australia) one of the three founding donating countries to the Tuvalu Trust Fund.

Flag of Tuvalu, design re-instated April 1997

While Tuvalu's relations with Britain are peaceful, they have been somewhat troubled since independence in 1978. Tuvaluan-British tensions date back to the colonial era when Tuvalu was part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. The Gilbertese were Micronesian and are in Kiribati, while the Tuvaluans were largely Polynesian. In 1975, the Tuvaluans demanded separation from Gilbert Islands and also sought independence from the Britain.

Tuvalu's fourth prime minister, Sir Kamuta Latasi, officially had the British Union Jack removed from the Tuvualan flag in January 1996 (see Flag of Tuvalu). Prime Minister Kamuta Latasi subsequently lost office following a vote of no confidence. Supporters of Latasi held that this measure symbolically distanced Tuvalu from the colonial period. This change, however, proved to be short-lived, since Latasi's successor (Bikenibeu Paeniu) re-introduced the original design of 9-star flag that included the Union Jack.

As a result of a motion in the parliament, a constitutional review was undertaken to determine if Tuvalu should become a republic or remain a monarchy. The Tuvaluan constitutional referendum, 2008 resolved to retain Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state.

Relations with France[edit]


Through French Polynesia, France shares a sea border with Tuvalu, and Tuvalu maintains very strong relations with France, cooperating in France's environmental efforts and maintaining close ties with French positions in votes in the United Nations.[27]

France is the only nation besides Taiwan to hold a formal diplomatic presence in Tuvalu. Since 2003, France has maintained an honorary consulate located in the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau. Among other duties, the consulate oversees projects funded by the French Pacific Funds for Cultural, Social and Economic Development. The largest of these projects (at €50,000) was a major study on renewable energy in 2005. Other projects to date have included the construction of La Pérouse School (1992), air navigation training (1996), the electrification of the Amatuku Maritime School (1996) and a project to increase food production on Nanumaga (1998).[28]

The Franco-Tuvalan environmental protection non-governmental organization Alofa Tuvalu has operated in Tuvalu since 2009, primarily with French funding. Alofa Tuvalu's stated purpose is to conduct an "extensive study and documentation project aimed at reinforcing Tuvalu's capacities to survey, monitor and manage its marine resources, along with increasing its local and scientific knowledge of them."[29]

Relations with the European Union[edit]

European Union

The European Union provides a significant amount of aid and technical assistance to Tuvalu;[30] Aid programs for water supply and improvements to waste treatment and other environmental issues were announced in 2009.[31] In March 2014 the European Union provided finance to the Government of Tuvalu so that CBS Power Solutions (a Fijian company) will supply and installation battery-backed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for the islands of Nukulaelae, Nukufetau and Nui. The 191kWp project extends the implementation of renewable energy in Tuvalu and will provide the islands with 24 hours-a-day electricity. Tuvalu will be able to reduce consumption of fuel used to produce electricity by 120,000 litres of diesel per year, amounting to reduction in spending on diesel of about AU$200,000.[32]

Relations with the United States[edit]

United States

Tuvalu-United States relations were confirmed by the signing of a Treaty of Friendship in 1979, which was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1983, under which the United States renounced prior territorial claims to four Tuvaluan islands (Funafuti, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae and Niulakita) under the Guano Islands Act of 1856.[33]

The Tuvaluan government, the US government, and the governments of other Pacific islands, are parties to South Pacific Tuna Treaty (SPTT). That agreement entered into force in 1988 with the current SPTT agreement expiring on June 14, 2013.[6]

The United States ambassador to Fiji oversees diplomatic relations with Tuvalu. While the relationship is generally positive, disagreements between the two countries over climate change have caused some strain.

Relations with United Arab Emirates[edit]

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates and Tuvalu established diplomatic relations on 31 March 2010.[34]

In January 2014 Tuvalu signed an agreement with MASDAR, a UAE Government company, which will provided US$3 million in aid to help Tuvalu solarize the outer islands, so as to reduce reliance on fossil fuel for electricity generation.[35][36]

Relations with Pakistan[edit]


Relations with Japan[edit]


Manu Folau off Vaitupu Harbour

Japan and Tuvalu established diplomatic relations in 1979. Japan is a significant aid provider in the form of grants and technical cooperation,[37] including donating the 50-meter vessel, the Manu Folau.

In 2011 Government of Japan provided three new desalination units and parts to repair the existing seawater desalination units through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) following the severe water shortages caused by the 2011 Tuvalu drought.[38] Japan had provided desalination units in 1999 and 2006.[39] In response to the 2011 drought, Japan has funded the purchase of a solar-powered 100 m³/d desalination plant and two portable 10 m³/d plants as part of its Pacific Environment Community (PEC) program.[40]

Relations with South Korea[edit]

South Korea

Tuvalu maintains very strong relations with South Korea through the South Korean Embassy in Fiji. The government of South Korea funded the shipment of 60,000 bottles of water from Fiji to Tuvalu as a first response to the water shortage caused by the 2011 Tuvalu drought.[41] Relations with North Korea is unknown.

Relations with the Republic of India[edit]


Relations with the Republic of China[edit]


Tuvalu is one of the few nations that continue to have strong diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan or ROC) and supports ROC's bid to join the United Nations. In turn, the ROC maintains the only resident embassy in Tuvalu and has a large assistance program in the islands with "several mobile medical missions".[42] Taiwan funded the construction of Tuvalu's largest building, a three-story administrative building.[43]

In 2006, Taiwan expressed concern over reports that the People's Republic of China (PRC) was attempting to draw Tuvalu away from the Republic of China. Taiwan consequently made efforts to further strengthen its diplomatic relations with Tuvalu.[44]

In March 2013, a Tuvaluan embassy was opened in Taipei, making the ROC only the third sovereign state to host an embassy of Tuvalu, after Fiji and New Zealand.[45]

Relations with Fiji[edit]


Tuvaluan relations with Fiji are strong. To date, Tuvalu has been free of the conflicts and disagreements that have marked Fiji's relationship with other nations in the region (see Foreign relations of Fiji). Aside from its mission to the United Nations in New York, Tuvalu's only foreign diplomatic office is its High Commission in Suva, Fiji.

The majority of nations that recognize Tuvalu accredit their embassies in Fiji to serve Tuvalu. This makes Fiji an important diplomatic centre for Tuvalu.

Additionally, relations with Fiji are of particular importance to Tuvalu as all regularly scheduled commercial flights to and from Tuvalu are through Fiji. At present, the only airline flying into the country Air Pacific. Until 1999, air traffic also came via Air Marshall Islands. From 1999-2009, the main air service provider was Air Fiji; this service ended when Air Fiji went out of business in 2009. Additionally, regular commercial boat service to Tuvalu is primarily through Fiji (although one provider also goes on to Tarawa in Kiribati as well).

Relations with Fiji are also important as it is by far Tuvalu's largest source of imports. In 2010, Fiji was the source of 46.1% of all imports to Tuvalu.

His Excellency The President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau of Fiji visited Tuvalu in February 2014. He described Tuvalu is being a valued partner in the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) and spoke of Fiji and Tuvalu as having a joint interest in working within the Pacific Small Island Developing States forum to push the rest of the world to take decisive action on climate change.[46]

In October 2014 the prime ministers of Fiji and Tuvalu signed the Fiji-Tuvalu Maritime Boundary Treaty, which establishes the extent of the national areas of jurisdiction between Fiji and Tuvalu as recognized in international law under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.[47]

Relations with Cuba[edit]


In the late 2000s (decade), Tuvalu began to strengthen its relations with Cuba. Cuba provides medical aid to Tuvalu.[48]

In September 2008, Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia attended the first Cuba-Pacific Islands ministerial meeting in Havana. He was, along with I-Kiribati President Anote Tong, one of the first two Pacific leaders to visit Cuba. The meeting aimed at "strengthening cooperation" between Cuba and Pacific Island countries, notably in coping with the effects of climate change - an issue of critical importance to Tuvalu.[49]

At the meeting the Cuban Government agreed to provide qualified medical doctors to work in Tuvalu and to provide medical education to Tuvaluan students. The first doctor arrived in Tuvalu October 2008 with two additional doctors arriving in joined February 2009. In 2008 the Government of Tuvalu sent ten Tuvaluan students to study medicine in Cuba and ten more were sent in 2010.[50] In 2011 there were four Cuban doctors working at the Princess Margaret Hospital.[51]

Relations with Russia[edit]


Tuvalu established diplomatic relations with Russia on 25 September 2011.[52]

Relations with Georgia[edit]

Georgia (country)

In 2011, the government of Prime Minister Willy Telavi recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which had broken away from Georgia and which Georgia viewed as remaining part of its sovereign territory.[53] However, the government of Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga retracted the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on 31 March 2014 when Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Taukelina Finikaso signed an agreement to establish diplomatic relations with Georgia. Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister said that his country supports Georgia’s territorial integrity in its international recognized borders.[54][55] Taukelina Finikaso is also reported as saying that re-establishing diplomatic relations with Georgia was an important step towards strengthening ties with the European Union, which he described as a traditional friend of Tuvalu.[56]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ "Tuvalu, Distrusted by China, Worried by Sea, Can Join U.N.", New York Times, 18 February 2000
  3. ^ "Tuvalu no longer small fry on world stage", The Australian, 17 December 2009
  4. ^ "Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency". Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  5. ^ "The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)". Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
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  13. ^ "Majuro Declaration: For Climate Leadership". Pacific Islands Forum. 5 September 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  14. ^ The Secretary General (19 July 2013). "Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu Sign the MOU to establish Trade and Development Facility". Press Statement 40/13, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
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  16. ^ Permanent Mission of Tuvalu to the United Nations
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  33. ^ "DOI Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) – FORMERLY DISPUTED ISLANDS". Retrieved 15 September 2009. 
  34. ^ "UAE and Tuvalu establish diplomatic relations" 31 March 2010 Link retrieved 01 April 2010
  35. ^ "5 Pacific Countries To Receive Grants From UAE’s $50m Renewable Energy Fund". Masdar. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  36. ^ "Tuvalu closer to 2020 renewable energy target". Solomon Star. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  37. ^ "Japan-Tuvalu Relations". Department of Foreign Affairs of Japan. 1998. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  38. ^ "Japan-New Zealand Aid Cooperation in response to severe water shortage in Tuvalu". Department of Foreign Affairs of Japan. 4 November 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  39. ^ "Japan Provides Desalination Plant to relieve Tuvalu’s water problems". Embassy of Japan in the Republic of the Fiji Islands. 2 June 2006. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  40. ^ "US$4 million from PEC Fund for Tuvalu desalination and solar power". Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. 11 October 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  41. ^ Burese, Ioane (29 October 2011). "Korea joins Tuvalu aid". The Fijian Times (Suva). 
  42. ^ "Taiwan thanks Tuvalu for its backing". Radio New Zealand International. 27 December 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  43. ^ "Country profile: Tuvalu". BBC News. 14 December 2011. 
  44. ^ "Taiwan: Seeking to Prevent Tuvalu from Recognizing China", UNPO, 9 October 2006
  45. ^ "Pacific Island ally Tuvalu to open up embassy in Taipei next week", China Post, March 6, 2013
  46. ^ "President Nailatikau: Tuvalu a valued PIDF Partner". Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF). 20 February 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
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  48. ^ "Cuban Physicians to Aid 81 Nations", Prensa Latina, 29 March 2008
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  50. ^ Resture, Setapu Asenati (March 2010). "TE MAAMA PALA: Continuity and change in coping with Tuberculosis in Tuvalu". A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Masters of Arts in History - The University of Auckland, N.Z. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  51. ^ Motufaga, Dr Silina (2011). "Situational Analysis of Specialist Clinical Services (Tuvalu)". Fiji School of Medicine. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  52. ^ (in Russian)
  53. ^ Sukhumi (23 September 2011). "Tuvalu becomes sixth state to recognize Abkhazia". Rianovosti. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  54. ^ "Tuvalu Retracts Abkhazia, S.Ossetia Recognition". 31 March 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  55. ^ "Tuvalu scraps recognition of Georgia breakaway regions". Business Standard/AFP (Tbilisi). 31 March 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  56. ^ "Tuvalu joins traditional friends by renewing ties with Georgia". Radio New Zealand International. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2014.