Honiara, Solomon Islands – International Day of Non-Violence 2020 was commemorated today through education and community awareness. The sessions were conducted by the Public Solicitor’s Office (PSO) paralegals and community legal advocates (CLAs) on the role of the PSO and its specific services related to gender-based violence through its family unit. These sessions were held in the provinces of Guadalcanal, Malaita, Makira, Temotu and Western Province.

The activities were supported by the Solomon Islands Access to Justice Project (A2J) that is funded by the Australian Government, and the Empowering Youth as Agents for Peace and Social Cohesion in Solomon Islands (EYAPSC) that is funded by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. Both projects are implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Public Solicitor’s Office (PSO) and the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Ministry of Youth, Women, Children and Family Affairs and the Ministry of Traditional Governance, Peace and Ecclesiastical Affairs.

UNDP Country Manager for Solomon Islands, Mr. Berdi Berdiyev said, “Today, is a unique occasion to spread messages of non-violence in all aspects of life, and emphasize its relevance to securing a culture of peace, harmony and understanding through respect of the rule of law and the formal justice system.”

He added, “The United Nations observes October 2nd as the International Day of Non-Violence to coincide with the birthday of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948). Such awareness transfers the values and doctrine on non-violence from Gandhi’s famed figure and understandings of legal aid from textbooks into the hands of people at the grassroots for their legal empowerment.”

In addition to the multi-provincial community awareness, 20 youth representatives from youth caucuses in and around Honiara established by EYAPSC, participated in the Guadalcanal commemorative activity.

UNDP in the Solomon Islands A2J Project Manager, Grace Kiernan, “This activity consisted of an awareness raising and dialogue session, followed by the film screening of ‘Gandhi’ at the Iumi Waka Youth Co-Lab, Town Ground in Honiara.”

“The screening of the powerful biopic raised awareness amongst the youth participants about the transformative journey Gandhi went on from lawyer to leader, beginning his non-violent resistance to challenging injustices in India,” she added.

The A2J project supports the PSO in capacity strengthening to enable enhanced access to justice for the people of the Solomon Islands at national and provincial levels, particularly marginalised groups including women, youth and people with disabilities.

The project is implemented through a two-tiered paralegal initiative of provincial paralegals who work under the supervision of PSO lawyers in the PSO offices, and CLAs who bridge their grassroots communities to the formal justice system, particularly PSO.

The PSO is central to assisting individuals to understand and protect their legal rights through community awareness, advocacy, legal advice and representation. The PSO is a key actor in the formal justice system and upholding the rule of law. It is an office representing Gandhi’s core principles related to access to justice through its free service delivery for people facing social and economic disadvantages.

In the words of Gandhi, ‘We may never be strong enough to be entirely non-violent in thought, word and deed but we must keep non-violence as our goal and make strong progress towards it’. Indeed, on his birthday, we commemorate his life and commitment to such a goal which is enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal 16 for peace, justice and strong institutions.

For more information or media inquiries please contact:

Mr Ednal Palmer, Communications Specialist, UNDP Solomon Islands Office. P: (677) 27446/7336633 E: ednal.palmer@undp.org

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