To grow strong trees start with good soil: Ombudsmen & foundations for public accountability in Vanuatu & the Pacific

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Abstract

[Extract] The importance of public accountability and need for integrity in government
decision-making has been accepted in legal systems generally and this holds true in the
Pacific.1 Public accountability in this context refers to the public law aspiration to safeguard a
fair and just society and the accompanying mechanisms which ensure that legislation,
decisions, and actions of government are made in accordance with law. Throughout this analysis the concept of requiring governments to be responsible for their actions and
decisions is termed ‘public accountability’. It is closely related to the concept of good
governance, which draws a broader circle than the traditional meaning ascribed to
government and includes the ‘traditions, institutions, mechanisms and processes that
determine how power is exercised’ as well as the role of citizens and non-government
organisations.2 This analysis will focus on public accountability through Ombudsmen in the
Pacific, featuring a detailed case study on Vanuatu and the role of its Ombudsman. The paper
will argue that constitutional embedding of key accountability institutions can provide a basis
for the development of a culture of accountability and a foundation to build future
improvements upon. The development of a culture of accountability also requires a broad,
complex network of institutions and people and this wider system operating within Vanuatu
will also be explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-124
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of South Pacific Law
Volume2017
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017

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