Inclusive Dialogues to address ethnic mistrust, and reduce prospects of violent extremism and political instability
The September 2014 Elections marked the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in Fiji’s history. With the peaceful return to democratic rule, there is optimism amongst Fijians of a peaceful and stable future. It is, however, important for all stakeholders to work together to turn this optimism into reality.
Analyses of the current context suggest that, despite the relative peace and harmony, a number of factors responsible for the turbulent past continue to exist. These unresolved issues continue to provide potential for future instability and disintegration of peace. Whilst ideological, political, cultural, religious, gender and socio-economic differences would always be a challenge to peace prospects in any culturally and ethnically diverse society, it is important that these can be addressed before differences escalate into destructive conflicts.
Ethnic differences have been a dominant source of political instability in Fiji. Whilst the government has made some significant structural changes to address ethnicity problems in recent times, these have not necessarily improved ethnic relations in the country. There is a need for a multi-stakeholder approach to address ethnic distrust and frame new collaborative strategies for achieving national unity and development, and decreasing prospects of violent extremism and political instability.
The “Dialogue on Ethnic Relations” will provide a forum for discussions on ethnic relations, its potential impacts on community relations, national security, sustainable democracy, governance and socio-economic development in Fiji and discuss ways of addressing these. The dialogue will involve the participation of different stakeholders representing different cultural, religious, ideological, gender and socio-economic backgrounds to reflect on and share different worldviews, experiences, aspirations and strategies with anticipation of eventual consensus as to the way forward to address the issue of ethnic distrust in Fiji, and work towards the greater goal of a peaceful and stable Fiji.