Pacific Judicial Development Programme I 2006-08
The Pacific Judicial Development Programme has operated since the mid-1990s to promote the rule of law and strengthen the capacity of courts across the Pacific. The Programme operates under the oversight of the Pacific Judicial Conference, comprising the Chief Justice of the Pacific, which convenes biennially. At present, it serves the judiciaries of 14 Pacific Island Countries, being: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Fiji has earlier participated but its membership was suspended following the military coup in December 2006.
Since inception, the Programme has been continuously supported by the international community, notably AusAID, the Asian Development Bank and New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the United Nations Development Programme, reflecting global recognition of the importance of the role of courts in promoting justice, the rule of law and good governance. Phase I which ran between July 2006 - June 2008, was funded with an annual budget of approximately A$2 million by New Zealand and Australia. During the first phase, the Programme built on the achievements of the earlier Pacific Judicial Education Programme in supporting participating countries to enhance the professional competence of judicial and court officers, and the operational effectiveness of court processes and systems that they use.
The founding vision of the Programme was to train judges and magistrates particularly in small Pacific Island Countries which otherwise receive little official development assistance.
During the implementation period, the Programme's development vision has evolved from training judicial officers into building the capacity of courts as organisations to administering justice more effectively.
Goal and Purpose - The goal of the Programme is to strengthen governance and the rule of law in Pacific Island Countries through enhanced access to justice and professional judicial officers who act independently according to legal principles; its purpose is to support Pacific Island Countries in enhancing the professional competence of judicial officers and court officers, and the processes and systems they use.
Under the Programme's four thematic pillars, the following outcomes were achieved:
1. Access to Justice
- Court-Annexed Mediation governance structures, systems, and processes were developed and mediators trained in the Kosrae State in the Federated States of Micronesia, and Samoa.
- Support was provided to Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia to improve responses to family law related issues.
- Inter-agency coordination and communication groups were established by the judiciary with the Programme's support in Vanuatu and Samoa.
- Several leadership meetings were held between the Chief Justices of participating judiciaries, the heads of lower benches and the coordinators responsible for national reform within each judiciary. The purpose of each meeting was to share common challenges along with feasible solutions to address them, while also building capacity to lead and implement change.
- Codes of Judicial Conduct were developed with Solomon Islands, Niue and the Marshall Islands.
- Support was provided to the judiciary in Tonga enabling it to develop a strategic plan for its medium term reforms.
3. Systems and Processes
- Support was provided in analysing need, developing and implementing solutions and to address challenges to the efficient and effective operation of court administration in Niue and Kiribati.
- The financial management systems with Vanuatu and Marshall Islands were reviewed and strengthened according to the needs of each Chief Justice.
- The human resource management structure, processes and key positions were evaluated in Tonga and Marshall Islands and assistance provided in designing and implementing a series of reforms.
4. Professional Development
- Judicial orientation workshops were delivered in the Cook Islands, Nauru and Kiribati.
- Support was provided to judicial officers in the Federated States of Micronesia, Cook Islands and Samoa, to strengthen decision-making skills.
- Civil and criminal law training was provided to judicial officers in Niue and Tokelau.
- Training on the law applicable to and management of land law cases was provided to magistrates in Kiribati.
- Regional Train-the-Trainer programs were conducted in Vanuatu and Samoa resulting in 23 people being accredited to an Australian standard as trainers.
- Benchbooks written in English for Tuvalu and Kiribati were translated into their local language.