Mr Jon Apted of Munro Leys during the workshop at Holiday Inn, Suva.
Members of The University of the South Pacific (USP) Council attended a workshop on the USP Convention during the first day of the University’s Council Meeting on 3 November 2016, at the Holiday Inn, Suva.
One of the key objectives of the workshop facilitated by Mr Jon Apted of Munro Leys was to familiarise Council Members and senior legal officers from USP’s member countries with the University’s legal processes that need to be followed to get the Convention approved as the University would like to implement the new Convention across its member countries in anticipation of the 50th Anniversary in 2018.
Mr Apted talked about the legal foundations by which the University was formed in 1968. He said that the University was provisionally established under a Fijian colonial ordinance in 1968 and then under a Royal Charter in 1970. Each original member country is named in the Charter.
He said that the Royal Charter, is in effect equivalent to the Constitution or Act under which the University operates. Even though the University has legal status in all the member countries, it was established under Fiji law as the primary locus.
He added that regardless of the fact that there is no formal legal recognition in any country other than Fiji and Samoa, every member country financially supports the University and through engagement of the respective Ministry of Education being actively involved in its governance.
Mr Apted informed the Council members that there are three governing documents of the University. These are, the Charter, which establishes the objects and framework of the institution and it requires consent of the Crown in Privy Council to change the Charter. The University Statutes are the regulations or subordinate legislation of the University and provides governance structure and rules. The third type of document are the Ordinances which regulate the day to day running of the institution.
“A review of the legislative framework of the member countries has demonstrated that although the University has legal status in every jurisdiction as a result of the Royal Charter, the operations of the University have not been recognised in the legislative framework of most of its members,” Mr Apted said.
USP Council Members, senior legal officers and attorney generals or USP’s member countries during the workshop on ‘USP Convention’.
The facilitator further stated that the draft convention that was discussed during the workshop, was proposed as a simple way of promulgating and supporting the ongoing operations of the University and as a means of ensuring that it continues to deliver a valuable output to the member countries.
“Adoption, ratification and incorporation of the Convention into national law is intended to resolve ambiguities that have risen from time to time regarding the legal status and operation of the University in each of the member countries,” he added.
Additionally, the Convention confirms the operation of the University in each member country and anticipates with the agreement of the members, the expansion of the University into other Pacific jurisdictions.
The Council Meeting also discussed the requirements:
· To authorise a representative to agree to the Convention;
· To authorise a representative to sign the Convention;
· For each member country to “ratify” the convention; and
· To ensure that the convention becomes enforceable in each member country’s national legal system.
The legal officers representing the member countries were present to talk about in-country processes and requirements.
These legal officers described the procedure to authorise which officer can sign an international convention, talked about the instruments of ratification and processes used in their country, and the need to pass legislation to give effect to a treaty/convention with its processes and timeline.
According to Mr Apted, the ratification and incorporation into domestic law of the Convention by the majority of member countries by the end of 2017 would allow member countries and USP to celebrate 50th Anniversary in 2018 with a legislative framework in place to consolidate its operations into the future.
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