The Foundation for Development Cooperation hosted the Development Research Symposium: South Pacific Futures in Brisbane on 22-24 July 2002 with over 80 participants from Australia and the region. The former Member of Parliament from Vanuatu Hilda Lini delivered the keynote address in which she challenged the assumptions underlying western representative democracy and argued for more emphasis on Melanesian systems of democracy. This address set the scene for three days of discussion on the state of modern democracy in the Pacific and the role of custom in modern governance processes.
On 22 July Roland Rich chaired a session of the conference focusing on the role of the State in Pacific governance and democracy. Presentations looking at the Solomon Islands were delivered by Joseph Foukona and Gordon Nanau. Joseph's research demonstrated the way a traditional form of dispute resolution, the payment of compensation by one group to another to put an end to a blood feud, has been distorted in the Solomon Islands as a means to extort money from the state. Gordon's paper described the reform process in the Solomon Islands and the way traditional forms of governance need to be reintegrated into the system.
There were also presentations on the chaotic elections in PNG from Henry Okole, Bill Standish and Peter Aitsi. Peter Aitsi, President of the PNG Media Council, described the war on corruption being waged by the media in PNG in cooperation with other members of civil society. His paper shows that civil society must take a stand when the political system falls prey to corruption. Peter's transparencies taken from newspapers in PNG showed the conference a graphic illustration of the power of the media in fighting corruption.
|The Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI) supports the efforts of democracies in the Asia-Pacific region to strengthen their political systems. It provides training, technical assistance and peer support for parliamentarians, political party organisers and emerging leaders in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, with a particular focus on Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. CDI sponsors research and publications on political change and democratic governance.
Established in 1998, CDI is funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). The Centre is based in the Crawford School of Public Policy, part of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.