18 Mar 2004

Academic says Pacific on path of own form of democracy

4:51 pm on 18 March 2004

Claims that western-style democracy is failing Pacific countries have received some backing from a specialist in Pacific constitutional arrangements.

Steve Ratuva was commenting on a call by the director of the Suva Based Pacific Concerns Resource Centre, Hilda Lini, for the creation of a new Melanesian style of democracy.

Ms Lini says western-style democracy has created chaos and poverty, and the collective rights of pacific peoples are not adequately legalised in national constitutions.

Steve Ratuva, a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, says it's true that trying to impose pure western-style democracy in places like Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands have led to difficulties.

But he says the way in which Samoa's matai system and Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs are integrated into their constitutions show that traditional Pacific political structures can complement western-style systems.