REMARKS: SG Henry Puna at the Parliamentarians for Global Action Regional Pacific Islands Workshop on the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime

Remarks and Speeches
08 May 2024

9.30am Monday 7th May 2024
Tanoa International Hotel
Nadi, Fiji

•    To our host, Hon. Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, Speaker of Parliament (Fiji)
•    Members of Parliament from across the Blue Pacific Continent
•    Excellencies
•    Senior Officials
•    Distinguished guests
•    Colleagues and friends

•    It is an honour to be here with you on behalf of Pacific Islands Forum Leaders to discuss the critical issue of cybersecurity here in our Blue Pacific Continent.

•    The Pacific Islands Forum is the region’s premier political and economic policy organisation. Founded in 1971, it comprises 18 members from across the Blue Pacific Continent.

•    The Forum’s vision is for a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity, so that all Pacific people can lead free, healthy, and productive lives.

•    The Pacific Islands Forum works to achieve this Vision by fostering cooperation between governments, collaboration with international agencies, and by representing the interests of its members.

•    In July 2022, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders released the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. The 2050 Strategy sets out the region’s approach to collectively achieve our long-term vision through seven key thematic areas.  

•    In terms of our discussion today, on cybercrime, two of those seven key thematic areas are directly relevant: the Thematic Area on Peace and Security, and the Thematic Area on Technology and Connectivity.  

•    In those sections, Leaders reiterated the expanded concept of security for the Pacific, including security in the cyber domain.

•    Further, Leaders shared a vision that ‘all Pacific peoples benefit from their access to affordable, safe and reliable ICT infrastructure, systems and operations, while ensuring culturally sensitive user-protection and cyber-security.’

•    The Forum Secretariat continues to assess that cybercrime, and cyber-enabled crimes, will continue to negatively impact the peace and prosperity of Pacific peoples.

•    As such, continued effort is required by all Members and partners to mitigate this threat.  

•    Promoting and supporting Forum Members’ accession to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime is a key priority action of the Boe Declaration Action Plan. 

•    The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime is the most comprehensive and coherent international agreement on cybercrime and electronic evidence to date.  

•    It serves as a guideline for any country developing domestic legislation on cybercrime and as a framework for international cooperation between State Parties to the Convention.  

•    Tonga and Australia’s accession to the Budapest Convention has inspired fellow Forum Members to continue their own national efforts to accede.

•    We encourage you all to share the journey together. To share experiences and lessons-learned.

•    We want the region to become a hard-target for cybercriminals.  

•    We want cybercriminals to know that if they perpetrate cyber-related fraud, crime, interference, forgery and trespassing anywhere in the Blue Pacific Continent’s cyber domain, they can and will be caught, tried and prosecuted.  

•    In conclusion, I recall recent comments by Tonga, who highlighted that its accession to the Budapest Convention has afforded it an opportunity to align its domestic laws with that of the 70 countries worldwide who are leading the fight against cybercrime.  

•    By having laws that are better aligned to global best practice, Tonga has a sound basis on which to build interoperability in dealing with the transnational nature of cybercrime.  

•    Until the whole region has acceded to the Budapest Convention, there will remain gaps in our ability to work together to prosecute cybercriminals. Your country’s accession and subsequent efforts will help fill one of those gaps, and thus make our region significantly more safe and secure.  

•    Thank you for the opportunity to make these remarks to you today.  

•    Meitaki ma’ata.