Honiara, Solomon Islands - Solomon Islands Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare has opened the National Peace Dialogue in Honiara this morning, emphasising the importance of sustainable peace to the social and economic development of the country.
The two-day dialogue hosted by the Prime Minister under the theme ‘Sustaining Peace and Stability’ is supported by the UN Peacebuilding Fund (UNPBF) project.
“The importance of this theme cannot be over-stated. In any society the need for sustainable peace is important to social and economic development.
“Without peace, development cannot take place. Without peace, children cannot go to school. Without peace, the realisation of our potentials and aspirations will be undermined.
“The nexus of peace and development, therefore, cannot be over emphasized. We need peace in order to have optimal and sustainable development. The inverse is equally true: we have to have development in order to have peace in our communities throughout the country,” the Prime Minister said in his opening address.
The Prime Minister said in Solomon Islands development is not just about achieving and sustaining a high economic growth but engineering a development pathway that allows growth to take place and empowering women and youth to contribute to nation-building.
He said the general consensus from the provincial consultations in Malaita, Guadalcanal and the Western Province clearly demonstrate the strong nexus between peace and development.
Prime Minister Sogavare said these three provincial-level dialogues have not only highlighted the comparative advantages of the three Provinces, but also identified very clearly the challenges they have to overcome in order to have optimal and sustainable development.
He said the fundamental challenges that impede sustainable development as highlighted by the three provincial dialogues, include:
The problem of availing customary land for economic development with fair returns to landowners;
The problem of poor governance, in particular corruption, that diverts public resources and inhibits the effective delivery of public services like education and health; and
The frequency of natural disasters that continuously have setback effects on our development progress when we set out to reconstruct or relocate villages from the effects of climate change.
Turning to the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s (DCCG’s) Policy on sustaining peace, the Prime Minister said the present government’s agendas for public investments in the productive sector, initiatives to hasten development in the rural areas are all designed to generate economic growth and for every citizen to benefit from the fruits of economic development.
The Prime Minister also said the reparation framework that the Government will be putting together will ensure that its peace building policy targets everyone and not just those affected by the conflict.
Prime Minister Sogavare said the DCCG is serious about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)Report.
As such, the Prime Minister said work on a report that prioritises and sequences the TRC Recommendations coupled with an analysis of the TRC Recommendations, has commenced and will shortly be tabled before Parliament by way of a white paper sometimes this year.
Similarly, he said the development of the reparation framework will be critical for the purpose of implementing our peace building initiatives.
Prime Minister Sogavare said the implementation of the TRC Report recommendations, the findings from provincial consultations and the outcomes of this national dialogue will all contribute to the development of the reparation framework.
He said the timing of the National Peace Dialogue is impeccable in light of the withdrawal of the Regional Assistance to Solomon Islands next week and the need to hasten the peace building process through reconciliation and developing a sense of nationhood.
In her speech at the opening ceremony, Resident Coordinator United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, Ms Osnat Lubrani, highlighted the importance of involving all segments of the society in development and advancing development.
“Development processes need to unfold in such a way that they lessen tensions by bringing together all segments of society and doing away with inequalities or discrimination – and including everyone, women, youth, those living in remote rural areas, placing the interests and priorities of those furthest behind first.”
“For development to thrive, we need mechanisms to settle differences in a way that people feel they have a voice as full partners in shaping solutions, so that they can identify and choose win-win options that translate into gain for everyone.
“It may mean having to make some compromise; it could even mean having to work on internal change to recalibrate, update belief and value systems.”
The dialogue is attended by Members of Parliament, Provincial Premiers, Women, Youth and Community Leaders. Prime Minister has also invited international stakeholders as observers.
Sandra Barrows, Communications & Media Specialist, UNDP Solomon Islands, email: email@example.com, tel: +677 27446 ext. 5527