Pacific Youth Round Table Discussion

Pacific Youth Must Unite Against Corruption



OVER 30 YOUTH leaders representing 14 pacific island nations (Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) took part in the first ever Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption from 22 – 24 February at the Novotel Hotel, Nadi, Fiji.

Participants at the Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption
Participants at the Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption

The Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption was organised by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the Pacific Youth Council.

Vanuatu was represented by Kevin Henry (Transparency international Vanuatu), Prescila Meto (Youth Against Corruption Vanuatu), Mini Miliu (Youth Challenge Vanuatu) and Deffnie Thompson (Vanuatu National Youth Council), the Minister of Lands, the Honourable Ralph Regenvanu also participated in the forum as a presenter.

During the forum it was clear that corruption is a primary obstacle that needs to be addressed more effectively, it was also agreed that the pacific region needs to improve and to initiate more effective efforts by different institutions that are addressing corruption, as this could be instrumental in combating corruption right down to the grassroots level..

Protesting the brutal treatment of West Papuans
Protesting the brutal treatment of West Papuans

With regards to youth groups and advocates, it was emphasized that there is the need for more networking and the sharing of ideas regionally. For example, an anti-corruption tool that is being used in Vanuatu could be more effective in Palau while a program that is being implemented in Papua New Guinea would achieve greater success if done in Vanuatu, thus the sharing of ideas, contacts, tips, and support becomes a vital vein to a more competent and effective push to drive out corruption in each island nation, and to stand united in the region against corruption.

From the anti-corruption forum, the young leaders recognized there is a “limited, or no access to regional or country-specific data and policies relating to corruption (reflecting the need for evidence research based on corruption) due to lack of freedom of information and lack of innovation and independent media reports”, as stated in the forum outcome statement which is still in its draft stages.

It was also acknowledged that “difficulty with regards to sustainability of initiatives on anti-corruption such as youth movements against corruption due to lack of funding geographical isolations” creates a barrier to anti corruption efforts by active youth groups.

11043458_10204581445950291_9214734586042916812_oToday, the youth population in the pacific participate in all the sectors of society; they are police officers, pastors, to even becoming members of parliament. While some youth are fortunate to be awarded scholarships to study overseas, the majority of youth stay back. If you are lucky you can get opportunities to participate in local workshops, youth programs and even get a good job, but some unfortunate groups become vulnerable, and they participate in negative activities, involve in crime, allowing the society to regard them as deviants; a barrier to community development.

Youth from Vanuatu & PNG
Youth from Vanuatu & PNG

It is widely and commonly said that youth are the leaders for tomorrow, therefore it is important to note that whatever experience that youth go through during their upbringing will contribute a lot to how they will define, and present themselves when they hold high and important positions in the community, and nationally. Therefore more informal and local programs need to be developed to assist in promoting a good environment where young people are nurtured to avoid criminal activities.

Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) has been offering such programs to young people across Vanuatu, through TIV’s Civic Education Program TIV has identified certain factors that continues to encourage young people to keep silent against bad practices.

Firstly, the lack of trust in the political system; TIV asked a young person if he voted in the 2012 general election, and this was his response,

“No, I did not vote, I did not want to waste my time on those candidates. Do you realise what is happening? They promised us ‘no more motions of no confidence’, and look what they have done,”

this statement speaks for a lot of young people, the lack of trust and broken promises creates an environment where uncertainty becomes fact, when young people look towards an uncertain political future they become vulnerable to certain negative practices. TIV has, and will continue to encourage active citizenship, because an effective democracy is the result of a participatory process, everyone has to be involved, even young people.

Secondly, the lack of understanding on citizens basic rights and duties; over the years TIV has delivered hundred of constitution booklets to young people, and in the process informing them of their rights, that if violated, are eligible to lodge their complaint or statement to the appropriate authority.

Transparency International Vanuatu is still offering the Civic Education Program to interested youth groups and communities, call 25715, or email to request a workshop or to share your comment. You can also find TIV on facebook: