The acute shortage of legal drafters in the 14 Forum Island Countries* and the significant legal drafting work required to enable these countries to meet legal requirements under regional and international conventions prompted the establishment of the legal drafting unit within the Forum Secretariat.
Formally established on October 1st 2006, the Unit falls under the Political, Governance and Security Programme of the Secretariat.
The legal drafting unit is mandated to:
draft security related legislation as required under the Honiara and Nasonini Declarations;
provide legislative drafting assistance in relation to national legislative agendas;
render legislative drafting assistance to the 14 Forum Island countries in response to the Pacific Plan and any other relevant Forums;
work with development partners to facilitate capacity building focused on continuing recruitment, retention and support of legal drafters in the region.
Since its inception, the legal drafting unit has found real value in maintaining and strengthening close links with the Attorneys-General & Solicitors-General of the Forum island countries as any legislation requires the sanction of the Attorney-General’s Chambers (or its national equivalent) before it is tabled in the national Cabinet and then in Parliament.
A notable achievement by the Unit for 2008 was the completion of the Regional Model Law on Customs which was a collaborative effort by the Secretariat with the Oceania Customs Organisation. This project arose out of a Forum Regional Security Committee mandate in July 2006.
* Forum Island Countries include Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu