Public Participation & Constitution-Making in Fiji: A Critique of the 2012 Constitution-Making Process
State, Society, and Governance in Melanesia Discussion Paper No. 2014/6
20 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2017
Date Written: 2014
On 1 July 2009, the Bainimarama regime announced a Roadmap for Democracy that promised a transition to parliamentary democratic rule by September 2014 (Ministry of National Planning 2009). An important part of this Roadmap, according to the same announcement, was the plan for a constitution-making process that would provide a ‘solid foundation and framework for the rebuilding of our nation [that is] is critical for Fiji’. To ensure national ownership of the Constitution, the regime promised a participatory constitution-making process that would involve political parties, the private sector, civil society, non-government organizations, and citizens of Fiji.
The aim of this paper is to critically examine the 2012 constitution-making process in Fiji focusing on the principle of participation and how it was translated into practice. This was one of the central guiding principles of the Commission and, more importantly, this principle is now judged as a universal tenet of constitution-making. While literature clearly shows the possibilities of constitution-making processes in transition from conflict and in post-conflict societies, experience of the 2012 constitution-making process in Fiji will highlight the inherent difficulties in such processes in situations of tightly controlled military regimes.
Keywords: Constitution-Making, Public Participation, Transition, Democratic Transition, Fiji, Politics, Military
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