Representatives of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC), the Political Parties Commission, civil society and several political parties have returned from a high-level regional summit in Nadi, Fiji.
The two-day conference, titled “Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16 in Melanesia: Creating Political and Parliamentary Stability to Catalyse Development”, brought together leaders and academics from across from Melanesia to discuss political and parliamentary stability.
SIEC Principal Administrative Officer Freddie Bosoboe said that the conference was an opportunity to share experiences and ideas on everything from constitutions and electoral systems to political and cultural dynamics.
“While we all face our own unique challenges, there is much that we can learn from each other,” Mr. Bosoboe said.
“It was very useful to hear about the experiences of other countries that have faced, and are still facing, similar challenges in promoting political stability.”
The Solomon Islands delegation included the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Maelanga, Opposition Leader Jeremiah Manele, Leader of the Independent Group, Hon. Derick Sikua as well as political party leaders Hon. Danny Phillip, Hon. Derrick Manua’ari and Allan Tarohania.
Chairman of the Political Parties Commission, Sir Paul Tovua and Commissioner Ruth Liloqula also participated, along with Josephine Taekeni of Vois Blo Mere.
They joined more than 90 representatives from Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu
UNDP convened the conference as part of its work to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG16).
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were signed in September last year by 193 countries, with country leaders giving their commitment to a vision of the world to be achieved by 2030.
The SDGs are more wide-ranging than the preceding Millennium Development Goals. They aim to achieve inclusive growth that “leaves no one behind” and address the root causes of poverty.
While facilitating the panel discussion on partnership for supporting national efforts in achieving SDG 16, Ms. Azusa Kubota, Country Manager of UNDP Solomon Islands said, “Driving political and parliamentary reforms is a national process to be led by national stakeholders. However, partners like the UN can facilitate exchange and discussion within and beyond the Melanesian region.”
“We are all together in the journey towards achieving SDG 16 as a backbone for achieving the rest of SDGs”, Ms Kubota said.
Members of the Solomon Islands delegation took a lead role at the conference with Opposition Leader Jeremiah Manele, Sir Paul Tovua and Ruth Liloqula all participating in panel discussions.
As part of a panel discussion on “Votes of No Confidence and Crossing Floor in Parliament”, Mrs Liloqula said that while votes of no confidence are aimed at protecting the principle of ‘majority rules’, she observed, that a very fluid party system has often been touted as the main cause of no confidence votes.
She noted that the provincial executives have a grace period of 12 months when first entering office before a vote of no confidence can be moved against them as provided for under Section 19 of the Provincial Government Act.
The conference also examined the link between development and political stability, focusing on factors that can impact on stability including constitutions, electoral systems, political and cultural dynamics and parliamentary rules.
The conference was organized and implemented through the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji and funded through the support of the European Union and the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
The Solomon Islands delegation was supported by UNDP’s Strengthening the Electoral Cycle in Solomon Islands Project.