Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Local government in small states

SSmall states are defined as countries with less than 1.5 million inhabitants (including small island states and small island developing states - SIDS). Small states make up more than half of the 53 Commonwealth member countries. They face a particular set of challenges including governance, managing vulnerability and remoteness, dealing with limited economic opportunities, and dealing with the impact of climate change

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Yes to Local Government, No to Participatory Democracy: The Local Governance Reform Dilemma in Trinidad, St. Lucia and St. Vincent

In the Commonwealth Caribbean countries of St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, local government reform has been and continues to remain on the agenda. The proposals are all based on the philosophy that there should be elected local government, which in turn should facilitate substantive levels of participatory democracy and citizen involvement. But whilst there is general acceptance of this philosophy, central governments are seemingly reluctant to implement any reforms which would return power to the people. Citizen involvement and participatory democracy has thus become the bug-bear in the process, and has led to the stalling of local government reform in all three countries. With reforms having stalled, one wonders whether the next step will be the dissolution of systems of local government in these states.

Author: Bishnu Ragoonath Publisher: Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance Publication year: 2009


Governance at the Local Level in Melanesia – Absent the State

At independence the three Melanesian states of the Pacific Islands region – Papua New Guinea (1975), Solomon Islands (1978) and Vanuatu (1980) – opted for decentralised systems of government. In all cases a three-tier system of national, provincial and local government was introduced, although the specific arrangements and allocation of powers differed substantially. Since that time there has been a good deal of analysis about the policy processes of decentralisation itself and about the effectiveness (or otherwise) of national-level governance in these countries; but until recently little has been written about the lower levels.This short article surveys some of the recent research and commentary on local-level governance relating particularly to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Solomon Islands. It focuses on both the poor condition of formal local-level government as well as on the rise of informal governance-type activity at the local level which might be described as ‘civil society in formation’.

Author: David Hegarty Publisher: Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance Publication year: 2009


Local Government in the South Pacific Islands

In this paper we seek to answer some basic questions about the condition of local government in the Pacific. Firstly, we examine what is meant by ‘local government’ in the various islands and for that matter how Pacific Island states have perceived and accepted local government institutions in practice; second, we ask basic questions about existing legal and constitutional recognition and powers; and third, we provide initial findings on current per capita expenditure and local government financial viability in a number of Pacific cities and towns. We also make some observations on current moves towards local government reform.

Author: Graham Hassall, Feue Tipu Publisher: Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance Publication year: 2008


The Commonwealth Local Government Forum: An Overview

The Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) was established in 1994, coinciding with rapid moves towards decentralisation at that time, especially in Commonwealth Africa. It uniquely brings together national associations of local government and individual councils, ministries responsible for local government, and training and research institutes with an interest in local government, on a common platform. This reflects an understanding that local government needs effective central government and vice versa if decentralisation is to be truly successful, and that research, training and practice need to be brought together in a constructive and creative way. CLGF’s developmental work can be divided into three main categories: Promotion and advocacy of local democracy and good governance, Exchange of experience and Capacity building.This article provides a brief overview of the activities and projects which CLGF has underway in respect of these objectives. It will be complemented by more detailed papers on specific programmes and projects in this and future issues of the Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance.

Author: Lucy Slack Publisher: Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance Publication year: 2008


Commonwealth Local Government Forum Pacific Project

The Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) Pacific Project works with local government and other stakeholders in nine Pacific Island countries – Cook Islands, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. It seeks to strengthen local democracy and good governance, and to help local governments deal with the increasing challenges of service delivery and urban management in the unique Pacific environment. Human settlement patterns in the region are changing rapidly. The Pacific has traditionally been a rural agricultural/subsistence society, but this is no longer the case. The accelerated pace of urbanisation has impacted significantly on Pacific nations and in the very near future the majority of Pacific Islanders will be found in urban areas. Already over 50% of Fiji’s population are urban dwellers. Rapid urbanisation brings with it unique challenges and opportunities. Local governments are at the forefront of this phenomenon, with the responsibility to manage urban development and the transition from rural areas to cities and towns. Their success or failure to manage urbanisation and provide the required levels of physical and social infrastructure will affect many lives in a new urban Pacific. The project now has three components – the main Pacific Regional Project and two country-specific programmes: the Honiara City Council Institutional Capacity Building Project and the Commonwealth Local Government Good Practice Scheme in Papua New Guinea.

Author: Terry Parker, Megan Praeger Publisher: Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance Publication year: 2008


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