6 Aug 2010

Academic says new approach to Fiji needed because political coercion has failed

4:08 pm on 6 August 2010

An academic says fragmentation within the Pacific's regional and sub regional bodies is worsening and this shows a new approach is needed over the Fiji issue.

Dr Steven Ratuva, who teaches in Pacific Studies at Auckland University, points to the absence of some leaders from this week's Pacific Islands Forum summit, fractures within the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the refusal to involve Fiji in this week's African Caribbean and Pacific meeting in Vanuatu.

Dr Ratuva says historically the region solved differences, such as the standoff with the Fiji military regime, through talanoa, or talking through an issue, but this has been supplanted by diplomatic coercion.

He says the Pacific should take a lesson from the ASEAN group of countries where members are not punished but engaged by other nations encouraging change.

"Because if everybody is punished because they have coups or they have political instabilities or lack of democracy or whatever than they will be no more member of ASEAN left. So in the Pacific I think perhaps in the long run they should begin to think in terms of having a proactive mechanism for this peace building rather than just punishment otherwise there is going to be one dimensional. We are going for division, fragmentation, rather than unity."