Strengthening Democracy in the Pacific through Active Citizen Engagement

In 2021, the Constitution Transformation Network partnered with the United Nations Development Programme Pacific Office to build knowledge and share experiences on key issues of constitutional governance in the Pacific Region.

Countries worldwide are grappling with the challenge of achieving more meaningful engagement by citizens in political processes and public policy. This is also true in the Pacific region, where governments and people have been keen to draw develop new approaches to integrate citizen engagement in the formal systems of government, drawing on experiences in other countries as well as their own distinctive traditions of government that place a strong value on the connections between communities and leaders.

This project sought to support parliamentarians, government officials, civil society and ordinary Pacific people to systematically reflect on citizen engagement as a critical mechanism for facilitating inclusive democracy and sustainable development.

In November 2021, the Constitution Transformation Network and the United Nations Development Programme Pacific Office led a series of webinars to consider the principles of inclusive democracy and their value in the Pacific, and offer practical guidance on how Pacific governments, parliaments and civil society can strengthen citizen engagement. Pacific case studies as well as experiences from other jurisdictions were shared, with a particular focus on people-centred parliamentary processes and outcomes and popular mechanisms such as citizens assemblies.

A Practical Guide on Strengthening Democracy in the Pacific through active Citizen Engagement will soon be published by the UNDP, which sets out in accessible format the frameworks that underpin governments’ commitment and interest in strengthening citizen engagement in the Pacific, the key principles of citizen engagement, different mechanisms used by government to engage and consult with citizens, and mechanisms for citizen-centric deliberation, where the focus is on more fully empowering citizens to drive the discussion (such as citizens assemblies and citizens juries or panels).

The Practical Guide will be shared here it is published by the UNDP Pacific Office.