MEIG Highlights 26 novembre 2020

Highlight 1/2020 – What happens in Geneva matters in Fiji

Augustine Leroy SOKIMI, 26 November 2020

On 19 November 2020, an article was published in The Fiji Times highlighting a recommendation made by Fiji at the universal periodic review of the United States at the United Nations in Geneva on 9 November 2020. Fiji’s recommendation urged the United States to overturn its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the central aim of which is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change.

This hardly seems news worthy yet it made national news in Fiji as combating climate change is among Fiji’s priorities. So much so that when President Donald Trump announced in 2016 that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, the Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama formally invited him to Fiji to witness for himself the devastating impacts of climate change, where entire Fijian communities had to be relocated due to rising sea levels. Mr. Bainimarama extended the invitation while speaking at the UNFCCC-COP22 in Morocco. Fiji subsequently assumed the Presidency for UNFCCC-COP23 in 2017.

Fiji’s recommendation to the United States at its universal periodic review may seem trivial at first glance; however, it carries the hopes of, not just Fiji, but many other island nations throughout the Pacific. The hope that the United States will not abandon the global ambitions set under the Paris Agreement because climate change requires a unified global response under an unwavering banner of international solidarity. For many larger and more developed states, such commitment is aspirational but for small island nations, the matter is existential: “1.5 to Stay Alive”.

Therefore, if you are wondering why study international governance in International Geneva? The answer is because people as far as Fiji care about what happens in Geneva. What happens in International Geneva is news worthy in all our respective countries because we have our own aspirations and priorities that we wish to see reflected in the very resolutions and outcomes that flow from the intergovernmental organisations that render Geneva “international”. This is not intended only as endorsement of the MEIG programme, it is simply the reality.

Augustine Leroy SOKIMI, What happens in Geneva matters in Fiji, MEIG Highlight N°1/2020, available at

The views expressed in the MEIG Highlights are personal to the author and neither reflect the positions of the MEIG Programme nor those of the University of Geneva.


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