Pacific Region Meeting of Transparency International

Claire Johnstone
Pacific Programme/ Maori Caucus

Claire Johnstone
TINZ Member with Delegated Authority Pacific Programme

Pacific Visioning Meeting

TINZ worked together with its global secretariat, Transparency International (TI) to bring together the 5 Pacific TI Chapters plus Integrity Fiji, for a Pacific Visioning Meeting on 8 and 9 February 2019 in Wellington.

The meeting was arranged on short notice with enthusiastic support from the TINZ Team. All attendees went away hopeful about their success in the Pacific.

Chapter representatives from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, PNG, New Zealand, and Australia were joined by individuals from the TI Secretariat in Berlin and officials from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Integrity Fiji also attended to collaborate on the vision as it follows TI’s process for becoming re-accredited.

The engagement of the officials signalled a renewed commitment to fighting corruption in the Pacific from both the New Zealand and Australian governments.

TI Pacific Chapters Meeting Wellington February 2019
Back row from banner: Henri Makkonen (TI Australia), Serena Lillywhite (TI Australia), Willie Tokon (TI-Vanuatu), Daniel Webb (TI – Pacific advisor), Joseph Veramu (Integrity Fiji),
Middle Row: Leonard Chan (MFAT), Koila Bula (Integrity Fiji), Claire Johnstone (TINZ), Wilson Toa (TI Vanuatu), Alejandro Salas (TI), Arianne Kassman (TI PNG), Stephanie Hopkins (TINZ), Akae Beach (TI PNG), Autumn Prow (TINZ).
Front Row: Joy Abia (TI Solomons), Michael McWalter (TI Solomons), Ruth Liloqula (TI Solomons), Nikola Sandoval (TI), Suzanne Snively (TINZ), Julie Haggie (TINZ), Steven Wawrzonek (DFAT).

Issues plaguing the Pacific

Issues of corruption continue to plague the Pacific region including:

  • Many examples of corruption at senior levels of national governments
  • Corrupt governments and individuals taking advantage of distance from financial centres to bring ill-gotten gains to the region
  • Exploitation of the rich natural resources of the region.

Chapter Issues

The chapters added to the conversation by discussing their primary concerns.

Fiji spoke about the lack of understanding of corruption at a grass roots level and the need for a stronger focus on anti-corruption legislation.

New Zealand and Australia highlighted how the region is targeted for money laundering.

Papua New Guinea remains concerned about interference in civilian rights in democratic elections. Lack of process and threatening behaviour made people feel at risk if they did not vote to support the current government. There is also a lack of transparency in public decision making. This exposes the country to resource extraction, land acquisition and exploitative procurement.

The PNG Chapter is lobbying for Freedom of information legislation though participating in the Open Government Partnership.

TI Solomon Islands is concerned about large amounts of Foreign Aid money, destined for the provinces, disappearing. The indications are that it is being used for personal gain as opposed to where it was meant to go. In addition to this, public officials act outside of the law or without authority and do not comply with legislation, regulation, financial guidelines and other policies.

Vanuatu continues to experience lack of transparency by public officials and the need to monitor land rights. The Chapter demonstrates the value of transparency through monitoring the allocation of funds to Members of Parliament.

TI introduced Pacific Advisor, Daniel Webb at the Pacific Meeting. He showed his commitment through listening to the Chapters present.

Summing it up

Transparency International Asia Pacific Regional Programme Manager, Nikola Sandoval, summed up the meeting as a strong demonstration about how anti-corruption interests can work together in the region to bring local experience together with international knowledge.

Suzanne Snively, Chair of Transparency International New Zealand, praised the chapters, TI, MFAT and DFAT, for the courage to grapple with the large challenge of corruption in the Pacific.

It is reassuring that both the New Zealand and Australia Governments acknowledge that our two nations have a role to play in collaborating with our Pacific neighbours to stem the blight of corruption before it becomes too large. Snively emphasised that

“This commitment is not just motivated by the desire to being good neighbours but through the realisation that what happens in those countries affects us economically and environmentally.”

Ruth Liloqula TI Solomons presenting at TI Pacific Meeting Wellington Feb 2019
Discussion at the TI Pacific Meeting Wellington Feb 2019
Pacific Visioning Meeting attendies outside ministry 8-2-19

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