Public participation & constitution-making in fiji a critique of the 2012 Constitution-making Process



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PUBLIC PARTICIPATION & CONSTITUTION-MAKING IN FIJI




A Critique of the 2012 Constitution-making Process





Romitesh KANT
School of Government, Development & International Affairs,

Faculty of Business and Economics,

University of the South Pacific,

Suva, Fiji.

Kant_r@usp.ac.fj



Eroni RAKUITA
School of Government, Development & International Affairs,

Faculty of Business and Economics,

University of the South Pacific,

Suva, Fiji.

Rakuita_e@usp.ac.fj





DRAFT WORKING PAPER





CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION 2

PARTICIPATION & CONSTITUTION-MAKING 2

WHAT IS MEANT BY PARTICIPATION? 3

WHY PARTICPATE IN THE CONSTITUTION-MAKING PROCESSES? 3

Nation-building and Unity 3

Enhancing Legitimacy of the Constitution 4

Well-informed and Active Citizenry 4

DANGERS OF PARTICIPATION 4

PART II: CONSTITUTION MAKING IN FIJI 4

CONSTITUTION-MAKING IN FIJI 4

PART III: A ROAD MAP TO DEMOCRACY? THE 2012 FIJI CONSTITUTION-MAKING PROCESS 7

OUTLINE OF THE 2012 PROCESS 7

PART IV: THE RESEARCH 8

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES 8

DATA COLLECTION METHODOLOGY 9

DATA ANALYSIS 10

RESEARCH FINDINGS 10

General Overview of the Submissions received by the Constitution Commission 10

Timing and sequencing of the Constitution-making Process 11

Civic Education and Awareness 11

Constitution-making and Nation-building 15

PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE: What does this mean? 17

CONCLUDING REMARKS 20

BIBLIOGRAPHY 22





INTRODUCTION12


On July 1st 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 plans for a constitution making process that would provide a “solid foundation and framework for the rebuilding of our nation 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 general 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.
This paper is divided into four main parts. Firstly, the paper will lay out a brief theoretical framework for participation that would be used to analyze the findings. The second part presents a short overview of the history of constitution-making in Fiji while the third part will provide a brief insight into the 2012 process and finally the paper will discuss the 2012 constitution-making process and present an analysis of how principle of participation was manifested.

PARTICIPATION & CONSTITUTION-MAKING

There is an ever-growing literature on constitution making in transitional societies. Constitution making has overtime shifted from elite-led closed-session events to ones with high levels of civic engagement (Moehler & Marchant). Whilst scholarly literature during the second wave of democratization and constitution-making focused on the content and provisions of constitutions when judging democratic credentials, the later stages of third wave of democratization and constitution-making placed more emphasis in the process (Moehler & Marchant, n.d., pp. 1-2; Ginsburg, 2012, p. 4; Saunders, 2014, p. 3). This shift has led scholars and policy makers to advocate greater public involvement and greater transparency as an international norm and as the best practice for constitution-making (Moehler & Marchant, n.d., p. 3; Frank & Thiruvengadam, 2010; Abdelgabar, 2013; Ghai & Galli, 2009, Banks, 2008, p. 1046).



WHAT IS MEANT BY PARTICIPATION?


For the purpose of this, we use typologies of participation by Arnstein, Pretty and White in analyzing the constitution-making process in Fiji. Arnstein and White suggest that the ideal form of participation is only located at the end of a specific spectrum (Cornwall, 2008). These two typologies stress the elusive effects of politics that are entrenched within the participation debate. Questions regarding ‘control’ and ‘power’ stem from participatory typologies, as a result making it imperative to reflect upon the underlying politics surrounding participation (Cornwall, 2008).
While Arnstein and Pretty’s typologies describe a spectrum defined by a shift from control by authorities to control by citizens, White’s typology reveals two significant points: firstly, the motivation of those who adopt and practice participatory approaches and that participation is ultimately about power and control.
Sarah White’s (1996) typology seems to be the most useful for this paper as it analyzes participation as it begins to contend with issues, and begins to contemplate the various pressures actors engaging in participation experience. White’s typology of participation is more complex as it explores the many dimensions and interests involved within the process of participation (White, 1996). The identities, context and interests of both individuals and groups are also explored throughout the typologies (White, 1996). White’s typology rather than being used as a ladder, is more useful in trying to gauge how people make use of participation and is a valuable instrument that can be used to identify the methods and motivations that are being used at particular stages in a process (Cornwall, 2008, p. 271).


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