Fiji: Constitution-Making handbook launched
February 6, 2012
Over 150 constitutions have been created since, 1975, and as many as 20 national constitutions are reformed or adopted each year. However there are few resources for constitution-makers to draw upon.
Among the countries in the middle of a constitutional-reform process stands Fiji. The launch of Interpeace’s constitution-making handbook ‘Constitution-making and reform: options for the process’ comes at an opportune time for Fiji.
The handbook, a practical guide on the process of constitution-making, was published by Interpeace and co-authored by Michele Brandt, Jill Cottrell, Yash Ghai and Anthony Regan. In Fiji, the launch of Interpeace’s constitution-making handbook was jointly organized by the Fijian NGO Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF), the University of the South Pacific’s School of Government, Diplomacy and International Relations and Conciliation Resources.
Former Vice President of Fiji Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, officially launched the constitution-making handbook in front of over 80 invited guests in Suva, the capital of Fiji. Among the guests were Attorney Genreal Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and Fiji Labour Party stwalwart Krishna Datt in addition to several High Commissioners and Ambassadors.
President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi highlighted that the handbook does not provide a ‘one-size-fits all’ solution but rather outlines the options available in a constitution-making process. The constitution-making handbook provides practical guidance on how to design transparent, nationally led and owned processes that are also participatory and inclusive.
Citizens Constitutional Forum chief executive Revernd Akuila Yabaki explained that “the handbook stands as a relevant guide for Fiji as we prepare to go into constitution consultation.” The book draws on more than a hundred constitution-making experiences including Fiji.
Among those addressing the audience were Yash Ghai and Jill Cottrell, two of the co-authors of the handbook and renowned experts on the constitution-making process in Fiji.
Jill Cottrell, states “This is not a ‘how to do it book’. More a ‘how you might do it’, ‘how other countries have done it’ even ‘mistakes other countries have made’ or ‘how things may go wrong’ book.”
Scott M. Weber, Interpeace Director-General, greeted the participants with a short video. He adds “This handbook is not a cookbook. It is designed to raise awareness of available options and the implications of each choice, so societies can pick and choose what works for them.”