Ethnic Accommodation in the Republic of the Fiji Islands

Type Working Paper - Wellington, New Zealand, Paper prepared for the School of Law, Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand
Title Ethnic Accommodation in the Republic of the Fiji Islands
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1999
In 1997, the Republic of the Fiji Islands put in place a Constitution2
avowed object was to achieve a better accommodation among Fiji’s different ethnic
communities. Its people proclaimed their intention of
COMMITTING ourselves a new to living in harmony and unity, promoting social
justice and the economic and social advancement of all communities, respecting
their rights and interests and strengthening our institutions of government.3

Although there are major differences in the circumstances of the two countries,
aspects of the constitution-making process and of the Constitution itself may be
relevant to the goal of improving the accommodation among ethnic groups in New
Zealand, particularly the recognition of the special place of Maori as the indigenous
people. The purpose of this paper is to identify the potentially relevant approaches
and themes.
2 The selection and depth of treatment of these approaches and themes reflects
the author’s sense of their resonances for New Zealand. Others will have the task of
drawing out their implications in a synthesis which takes account also of the
constitutional arrangements in other multi-ethnic countries. That, indeed, was the
approach taken in Fiji itself in commissioning comparative constitutional studies
from which ideas could be drawn about the form of new constitutional
3 In writing the paper, the author draws on the personal knowledge she gained
in acting as the senior of the two Legal Counsel assisting the Fiji Constitution
Review Commission (FCRC), the Commission’s report5
, the 1997 Constitution and other relevant sources.

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