As part of its work to help strengthen parliaments, the IPU carried out a mission from 12 to 16 February to Port Vila to assist the Parliament of Vanuatu to assess its needs. The team included a UNDP expert.
Parliamentary democracy in Vanuatu is relatively new, and it functions alongside traditional governance structures such as the Council of Chiefs. Citizens do not always understand the function of the Parliament or realize that MPs are their representatives on national issues. To get a sense of how the Parliament and parliamentarians were perceived, the team spoke to various stakeholders, including MPs, parliamentary staff, the Presidents of the National Council of Chiefs and the National Council of Women, a representative of the Youth Council and the media.
Two workshops were held as part of the needs-assessment exercise, one on relations with constituents and community engagement, and the other on relations with the Government, which included a presentation of the 2017 Global Parliamentary Report on parliamentary oversight.
Recommendations from the needs-assessment exercise included capacity building for MPs on, for example, parliamentary oversight of government and the development of the administration staff. The recommendations also focused on outward-looking aspects such as hiring a media officer for Parliament and setting up a briefing programme for the general public on the role of Parliament and MPs.
The IPU assisted the Parliament to set up an independent data storage and a digitalization solution as part of the ICT strategic plan and provided training and support on their use and maintenance.
The mission was guided by the Common Principles for Support to Parliament.