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Pacific youth confront corruption

Tuesday 24 February 2015 | Published in Regional


Pacific youth confront corruption
Daniel Fisher's winning image.

NADI – Youth leaders from 15 Pacific island countries are speaking out against the “corrosive” effects of corruption.

Pacific nation youth representatives have gathered in Fiji for a regional forum aimed at addressing the issue.

The Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption was opened on Sunday by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative in Fiji, Osnat Lubrani.

The UNDP said young Pacific leaders between the ages of 18 to 25 were being supported to speak out against corruption and “its corrosive effects on society”.

The event was made possible through the UN Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption project (UN-PRAC), a four-year initiative funded by the Australian government.

Vanuatu’s lands and natural resources minister Ralph Regenvanu, a guest speaker at the forum, told Radio Australia that young people in the Pacific often found it difficult to voice their concerns about corruption.

“Normally you have mechanisms within the structure of the state, government or society where there is something that you see is wrong or a practice that is corrupt there should be an avenue to report it,” he said.

“The problem is in a lot of our countries, these institutions and avenues of redress don’t function properly, don’t work or don’t exist.

“In other cases, a young person can feel intimidated a lot of the time in the structures we have in the Pacific where being an elder is more respected and young people are expected to listen to the elders.

“When these practices you’re complaining about involve your elder there’s that added extra restriction on your feelings of not being able to do anything about it.”

Forty-five youth leaders were invited to take part in the inaugural Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption in Nadi.

Rae Bainteiti, from Kiribati Children’s Campaigners Network, said it was important for young people to speak out “because corruption is something that is a quiet subject”.

“We are mobilising our young people in the fight against corruption,” he said.

“We aim that when we come back home we would like to start off with awareness raising since this is a totally new subject for everyone on the island.

“Like every other Pacific Islander, Kiribati observes these traditional and cultural beliefs and norms. It will be a challenge – it’s like taking a new issue out of the closet.”

Countries participating in the three-day forum include Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands; Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Among the participants, three were announced as the winners of a Capturing Corruption photo contest, initiated by the UNDP and the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with the Pacific Youth Council.

Photo entries from Daniel Fisher (Cook Islands), Jared Kolivangana (Solomon Islands) and Roweena Wemahanua (Solomon Islands) were chosen based on their ability to capture an image of the effects of corruption within their communities.