Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner:
Activities and programmes of the United Nations system contributing to the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights
Statement of Fiji
Fiji thanks the Office of the High Commissioner for the comprehensive and timely report on the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights.
The Report correctly recognises, as SDG 16 does, that institutional strengthening is central to development. Institutions, especially those relevant to the accountability of governments and to the rule of law, are central to substantive democracy and the accountability of governments to the people.
It is arguable that institutional strengthening is one of the greatest challenges to development. Thus in Fiji we have recognised that it is not enough to guarantee rights. We must also provide Constitutional status for institutions such as the Independent Commission against Corruption, the judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Auditor-General. In turn these institutions must be accountable to Parliament and must be sufficiently resourced to be able to do their jobs well. Fiji is the only country in the world which provides in its Constitution, that the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption, must be administered and developed in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
Equally important is security of tenure and merit based appointments which are protected from political interference and influence. Fiji’s Constitution incorporates for instance the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary. Such principles are fundamental to the role of the judiciary in developing human rights jurisprudence and in deciding cases which challenge the conduct of the Executive.
We have taken these steps because we understand the fragility of these institutions and understand too the challenges related to adopting a merit based appointment system. However, the success of these measures depends on the ability of the institutions themselves to protect their independence and on the
ability of civil society and the media to be aware of the need to support independent decisions of these institutions.
We have faced many other challenges in trying to build our institutions. We have an old fashioned civil service which was previously riddled with racism, nepotism and abuse of office. There continues to be resistance to change and to an objective recruitment process. Another challenge in a conservative society with traditional respect for authority, is the reluctance of whistle-blowers to speak out against such authority. Thus a new Constitutional protection for whistle-blowers, since 2013.
We continue to work to strengthen the governance of our nation. It is a hard road with attitudinal and historical hurdles but together with a commitment to other and cross cutting sustainable development goals, Fiji is committed to rebuilding institutions in order to better deliver on the right to development.