20 Apr 2012

Role of traditional justice in Pacific highlighted by academic

3:32 pm on 20 April 2012

An Australian academic says international agencies and governments shouldn't overlook the work of local leaders in keeping the peace in Pacific communities.

A University of Queensland researcher, Morgan Brigg, says research in Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea's Bougainville, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu shows peace and order is most often dealt with at grass roots levels.

He says community leaders have the capacity to manage conflict on a day-to-day level, avoiding needless escalation of disputes.

He says they need more support.

"The formal justice system is often remote from people, police may be a long way away, it maybe difficult or expensive to get access to the court system, so its actually chiefs and church leaders predominantly, we've found, who are often doing a lot of the everyday conflict management work."

Dr Brigg says his work was presented at a UNDP workshop in Suva recently and it was good to see there is support for this approach to peace and order in Fiji.