A new European Union (EU) funded project to strengthen participatory and inclusive constitutional democracy in Fiji was launched in Suva on Thursday May 19, 2016.
The “Fiji in Transition: Towards a Sustainable Constitutional Democracy” project will be implemented over a period of three years by Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) with the assistance of Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM). This project will strengthen the role played by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Fiji for the promotion, implementation and monitoring of human rights through civic education, research and advocacy. The implementation of the project activities will see further engagement with national authorities to monitor the implementation of legislation and progress of constitutionally mandated institutions.
The EU Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, H.E Andrew Jacobs, highlighted the EU’s support for strengthening governance and participatory democracy: “The ‘Fiji in Transition’ project aims to strengthen civil society engagement and partnerships with institutions, to encourage active citizenship and to advocate for participatory and representative democracy. Through this project, the EU aims to facilitate dialogue between civil society and the government on civil and political rights.”
“CCF’s research activities indicate a need for advocacy on public participation and inclusiveness; this is a crucial component of good governance principles and democracy. This then creates a mandate to advocate for active citizenship which leads to the need for an enabling environment for it. The fulfilment of the right to freedom to information is one such example,” said CCF Chief Executive Officer Bulutani Mataitawakilai. CCF’s dynamic Research, Legal, Communications team through the assistance of external consultants, are eager to achieve and implement the aims of this project.
Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Executive Director Tara Chetty said Access to information in relation to human rights and democratisation is vital to empower citizens to actively engage and demand for accountability and good governance. “The inclusion of a feminist presence and the voices of diverse women and young women is essential to strengthen the call for accountability and to build a stronger, more sustainable democracy.” As part of the project, the activities involved enable people to understand the role of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission and the importance of freedom of information for an accountable and transparent democracy. This includes the annual inter-tertiary human rights moot court competition to encourage students to focus on the practicalities of human rights law and enforcement in Fiji and the Pacific, as well as conducting annual public forums and panel discussions that create spaces for raising awareness on human rights concerns. These specific activities complement CCF’s existing mandate to advocate for a Constitution that guarantees human rights and democracy. As a long standing advocate of human rights in Fiji and the Secretariat of the Universal Periodic Review Civil Society Organisation Working Group in Fiji, CCF is thankful to the EU for their support and recognition of CSOs efforts in Fiji.