Wednesday, 29 February 2012 11:22 AM

Development Partners to Better Coordinate Democratic Institutions Initiatives

Development partners have agreed on the importance of coordinating better their national and regional level initiatives to strengthen democratic institutions and good governance in the Pacific.

This emerged out of a meeting on Development Partner Coordination on Strengthening Democratic Institutions organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat as part of the Regional Workshop on Democratic Institutions being held in Brisbane, Australia, 27 - 29 February.

During yesterday's meeting, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat briefed development partners on its initiatives to implement the Good Governance Pillar of the Pacific Plan. The Commonwealth Secretariat also updated the meeting on the work of the Commonwealth Pacific Governance Facility (CPGF) based in Honiara, Solomon Islands. The Facility is the Commonwealth's contribution to supporting the implementation of the Pacific Plan's good governance pillar. One of the proposed focus areas of work for the CPGF included the promotion of a 'whole of government' approach to fostering democratic oversight institutions.

Max Everest-Phillips, Director of the Commonwealth Secretariat's Governance and Institutional Development Division said: "The work of the CPGF should be seen in light of Commonwealth's core commitment to 'Just and Honest Government'. This topic receives less attention than its other founding principles of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights. Yet one of the Commonwealth's key strengths is the practical value to its membership of the shared tradition in public administration. This common heritage allows genuine south-south cooperation and learning in the governance capabilities that underpin the two Commonwealth aims - development and democracy. This enables the Commonwealth to play a unique role in international efforts to strengthen governance. So although the Commonwealth Secretariat is a relatively small organisation, it can make a difference, and its potential in the Pacific is considerable."

Speaking at the same meeting, the Forum Secretariat's Regional Governance Adviser, Dr Henry Ivarature said as co-Chair of the Commonwealth Pacific Governance Facility, "... the Forum Secretariat has a responsibility to ensure that the work of the Facility is consistent and supports the good governance pillar of the Pacific Plan endorsed by Forum Leaders in 2005."

"It is therefore important that we understand and appreciate what sort of support is provided to democratic institutions by others working in the region," said Dr Ivarature.

Development partners, including the United Nations Development Programme and the Centre for Democratic Institutions, outlined their activities in enhancing good governance in the Pacific region. Other organisations that attended the meeting included AusAID, UN Women, the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, the Pacific Alliance of Ombudsman, the Commonwealth Youth Programme, and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum.

About fifty participants including government ministers, parliamentary speakers, current and former parliamentarians, representatives of the non-government organizations and senior government officials from Pacific island countries will discuss a concept paper on the proposed areas for the CPGF at the Regional Workshop on Democratic Institutions which begins today.