With a festive mood, 15 September, International Day of Democracy has been an opportunity for Solomon Islands to commemorate democracy and promote its principles. It has served to review the state of democracy in the country, particularly when it prepares for the upcoming Elections scheduled in April 2024.
Early morning people started to gather around the Town Council of Honiara. They marched celebrating the right of the Solomon Islanders to chose their government. The crowd crossed the city to get to the Justice Grounds. There the official celebration was taking place with the participation of Hon. Prime Minister, Manasseh Damukana Sogavare, former Prime Minister and Chairperson of Political Parties Commission, Sir Francis Billy Hilly, and representatives from different government institution, political parties, the diplomatic corp and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), main organizer of the event through the Strengthening the Electoral Cycle (SECSIP) and the Strengthening Provincial Governance and Service Delivery in Solomon Islands projects.
Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone. As Linda, a student from the Advance Christian Academy and winner of the junior political speeches competition that has taken place to commemorate the date reminded: “democracy in essence is a form of governance that empowers the people and ensure the participation in the decision making processes. It is a system that thrives on the principles of equality, freedom and justice.”
Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Damukana Sogavare, in addition to citizens’ participation , he also added to the concept of democracy “other principles such as transparency and accountability, regular free and fair elections, human rights and a multi-party system. All principles well and truly enshrined in our Constitution.”
These values are the pillars of the good governance programming that UNDP delivers around the world and it is highly looked up for. UNDP teams work to consolidate democratic societies to be inclusive, resilient, and efficient as a base for lifting people out of poverty, as part of our implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. It requires taking significant steps forward for which good governance is a precondition. Thus SDG 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions is the enabler of sustainable development.
On behalf of UNDP, Mr. Patrick Pee, Officer in Charge, emphasizing on the theme for this year’s celebration: “Inclusive Participation for Stronger Democracy in Solomon Islands”, he remarked: “the join collaboration that has made possible the celebration.” UNDP has been supporting through its National Country Programme the different institutions that partnered in today´s commemoration: the Political Parties Commission (PPC) and the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP), the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC), National Parliament of Solomon Islands (NPSI), Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) and the Solomon Islands Independent Commission Against Corruption (SIICAC).
In Solomon Islands, UNDP’s efforts with financial support from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the European Union and the UK has been actively focused on supporting the country´s democratic efforts to develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels.
The Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative and the second phase of the regional Strengthening Legislatures in Pacific Island Countries Project support the Parliament in its efforts to deliver its constitutional mandate.
Different integrity institutions
such as the Office of Auditor General, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Leadership Code Commission and the Solomon Islands Independent Commission Against Corruption (SIICAC) are also supported though the Transparency and Accountability Project.
At provincial level, UNDP has recently started implementation of the Strengthening Provincial Governance and Service Delivery in Solomon Islands project that supports the Ministry of Provincial Governments and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) improving provincial go
vernments’ institutional capacity and enhancing service delivery, particularly in the crucial sectors of health and education, especially the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector.
On the other hand, Political Parties Commission (PPC), the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP), and the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) are supported by UNDP´s flagship project in elections: the above mentioned Strengthening the Electoral Cycle of Solomon Islands project (SECSIP).
SECSIP was established in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) in 2013. Its primary goal is to bolster the sustainability and credibility of electoral processes through support to the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) and since its inception, it has played a pivotal role in bolstering electoral institutions. It has provided technical assistance, supplied logistical support and upgraded the facilities of these organizations with many projects such as the New Election Operations Center inaugurated two days ago.
Through all these valuable initiatives UNDP and its partners have been able to collaborate in order to strengthen the electoral institutions, improve the electoral processes and contribute to a more inclusive and diverse political future, specially relevant to to this year´s theme of International Day of Democracy in Solomon Islands: “Inclusive Participation for Stronger Democracy in Solomon Islands”
UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for peace, people and planet. Learn more at www.pacific.undp.org or follow us on social at @UNDP_Pacific and @UNDP_Solomons.
Photo credit: Daniel Gonzalez/UNDP