Youths discuss way forward for corruption-resilient Pacific
Participants at the Regional Youth Anti-Corruption Seminar in Suva. The event also marked 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). Picture: SUPPLIED/LISA WILLIAMS/PIFS
By JOELI BILI
Pacific youth leaders gathered in Suva today for a dialogue on unpacking the youth vision for a Corruption-Resilient 2050 Blue Pacific.
Hosted by The University of the South Pacific Students Association (USPSA), the Regional Youth Anti-Corruption Seminar at the Holiday Inn was also held to commemorate 20 years of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
Keynote speaker Fiji’s President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, acknowledged the USPSA for bringing together youth leaders to address corruption as “an issue of critical concern that hinders sustainable development and threatens peace, security and stability”.
“Promoting integrity and anti-corruption is essential for our broader good governance efforts and is an instrumental part of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific continent, which sets out the region’s approach in working collaboratively to achieve our long-term development vision,” Ratu Wiliame said.
He pointed out the most significant aspect of the cause was that the youth movement was driven and led by Pacific youth.
“This is a positive indication that the youths of the Pacific do not tolerate corruption and demand to sit at the dialogue table and be part of the anti-corruption policy think tank,” he said.
USP Vice-Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia added corruption was a global problem and UNCAC was a significant tool that was created to address and curb this issue worldwide.
“I think at The University of the South Pacific, we’ve taken a particular stand against corruption. I don’t think I need to say much more than that, but also to recognise that within our mission, vision and values we really have expressed the desire to expose our entire region of students to the values of transparency, ethics and accountability,” he said.
Youths at the event felt that discussions came at a critical time when more work needed to be done to drive the way forward for a corruption-free Pacific.
Fijian youth Grace Konrote said corruption was faced by everyone in society and it was important to have more awareness on ways to fight corruption especially as a young person.
“Having only one particular organisation or institution fighting corruption will not be an easy job so including youths and other organisations will make it easier to address the issue,” Konrote said.
USP Vanuatu student Sonia Tovor shared tackling corruption is not easy, but together as Pacific Islanders, they could make the impossible possible.
“I think it’s important to discuss corruption in the Pacific because we are preparing the future generation to benefit from whatever activities we are doing now. For the government, I believe it should be there for the people and not do things behind their backs,” Tavor said.
According to the USPSA, the discussions will inform the work of the Youth Advisory Board on Governance being established in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat as well as the upcoming regional Pacific Youth Anti-Corruption conference.
The event is supported under the UNDP Project, Pacific Anti-Corruption Project funded by the UK Government.
*Joeli Bili is a final-year journalism student at The University of the South Pacific. He is a senior reporter for Wansolwara, USP Journalism’s training newspaper and online publication.