|Overview : |
Significant progress has been achieved in the post-conflict peacebuilding and state building processes. The key areas in these processes are the Townsville Peace Agreement between the warring parties, a national reconciliation program that deals with issues directly and indirectly related to the civil unrest of 1998 to 2003, the law and order and institutional rebuilding and strengthening efforts by the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s work, and the post-TRC activities and efforts. Much of the programs that directly relate to the above, particularly reconciliation have already been dealt with considerable achievement. This provides the policy impetus to focus more on conflict management and prevention and building the capacities of both formal and informal institutions to be able in dealing with conflict management, prevention and the pursuant of conflict sensitive socio-economic development.
In this manner successive governments, including the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) have seen the importance of strengthening and formalising local governance in rural areas. This gives rise to the Traditional Governance Policy, which is deemed part of the fundamental reform program of DCGA.
This is not a new realisation by successive and the current governments, but traditional leaders all over the country over the years, even during the early years after independence, have put it to successive governments that local governance at the periphery must be formally recognised to support and compliment the work of formal governance.
This call was formally reinforced through the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee on the work of RAMSI in 2009. This Report is the basis for the Traditional Governance Policy which is currently being implemented. Besides, the Peace and Conflict – related Development Analysis (PCDA) conducted in 2004 also noted that higher levels of violence have occurred in areas in Solomon Islands where traditional mechanisms have weakened or broken down and thus there is a need to strengthen those traditional mechanisms.
Under the previous Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCCG) and the current Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (SIDCCGA), the key policy area or intention was the pursuit of legislating for traditional governance systems and structures, hence the formulation of the Traditional Governance and Customs Facilitation Bill. A nation-wide consultation was conducted by the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace (now Ministry of Traditional Governance, Peace and Ecclesiastical Affairs) which eventually resulted in an actual Traditional Governance and Customs Facilitation Bill 2018. The bill was brought to parliament but was withdrawn so that recommendations made by the Bills and Legislative Committee are to be addressed. Further consultations will be pursued after which a revised version will be tabled in parliament in 2020 or 2021.
The Bills and Legislative Committee (BLC) Report have made several important recommendations as way forward to better improve the Traditional Governance proposed law (Traditional Governance and Customs Facilitation Bill 2018). One of the key recommendations, that is recommendation number two (2) of the BLC report directed that a research study into the cultural anthropology of the various traditional governance systems in Solomon Islands to be carried out. That is the basis for this proposed research study work.
During the National Symposium on Traditional Governance convened for traditional leaders across Solomon Islands by the Ministry of Traditional Governance, Peace and Ecclesiastical Affairs (MTGPEA) in September 2019, the traditional leaders have made strong emphasis on the importance of adhering to the BLC recommendations, and amongst others is the recommendation to carry out cultural anthropological study into various traditional governance systems and structures existed in Solomon Islands societies. That will properly inform the proposed bill on the diverse traditional governance systems and structures that existed in Solomon Islands societies from time immemorial.
This research study is fundamentally important for this Traditional Governance proposed law as it will inform the important areas and requirements to focus on, which will then guide the reframing of the next processes leading to the new or perfected version of the Traditional Governance and Customs Facilitation Bill 2018. This therefore sets the basis for engagement of a consultant that will work collaboratively with the Ministry’s responsible team to effectively carry this research work.