International Constitutional Experts In Solomon Islands To Discuss Proposed Draft

Draft Federal constitution being considered

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 4, 2017) – Three international constitutional experts are in the Solomon Islands capital to meet the Constitutional Congress on the country's draft federal constitution.

They include Kenyan professor Yash Ghai, who was instrumental in drawing up a constitution for Fiji in 2013, which was rejected by the then ruling military regime.

The other consultants in Honiara are South African professor Nico Steytler and Dr Philip Knight.

Solomons' Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the impetus for the move toward a federal system of government stems from the peoples' sense that the current system has failed to address their wishes.

He said these sentiments have existed since the beginning of independence and the government has been working on drafting a new constitution for the past 10 years.

The prime minister said it was important a constitution was designed that binds all Solomon Islanders together and at the same time empowered individual states to govern and manage their own affairs.

Professor Ghai said a contemporary society that was highly focused on a central system does not always reflect the realities of that society.

He said this showed it was critical there was a balance between central government and the opportunities for communities to do their own thing.

Radio New Zealand International
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Calling in outside 'experts' who have an academic understanding of national 'affairs' is a poor substitute for actual expertise in the form of citizen "[wo/]men of affairs"—such as those who wrote America's constitution. For instance, I find Mr. Ghai's (and others') love of corporate bodies a rather obscene contamination of democracy. Democracy, from 'demos', means people, real human beings. People are not 'legal persons' such as political parties, corporations or churches or other NGOs. Legal persons must be subsidiary to real people, not above them. Requiring the appointment of the leader of a majority party or coalition violates this principle. Rather, require the appointment of the real person who commands the support of a majority of the members. Remember "Citizens United"!

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