7 Jun 2006

Vanuatu chief calls for support for traditional law agencies

9:52 am on 7 June 2006

The secretary general of the Vanuatu Council of Chiefs, Viratabe Selwyn Garu, says it is vital for aid donors to assist traditional organisations such as his.

Chief Garu says 75 percent of the population is still governed by kastom or traditional law, and the implementation of this by the council is widely seen as the reason Vanuatu has not experienced the upheavals of neighbouring Solomon Islands.

A New Zealand Parliamentary delegation was welcomed at the chiefs Nakamal in Port Vila on Tuesday when an announcement was made that New Zealand would soon be working closely with the chiefs on governance issues.

Chief Garu says they are working with Queenslands University's conflict resolution team and also want NZAID assistance to develop their capacity.

He says such support is critical...

"If you ignore, if donors ignore the chiefs, then the possibility of something happening like in the Solomons is increased, yeah, that is what we see. That is why we try very hard to make sure the donors understand that they must support us, that you must support the traditional systems as well."