Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek and Education Director General Bergmans Iati launching the Teaching Resources


Chief Justice (CJ) Vincent Lunabek and Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), Bergmans Iati, have recently launched a new initiative in Vanuatu aimed at educating schools about the judiciary system.

The Teaching Resources on Civic Subject were introduced during the launch, with CJ Lunabek emphasising the importance of providing information to the public regarding “access to justice” and the rights of individuals, particularly vulnerable groups.

Recognising the value of incorporating this knowledge into the school curriculum, the initiative aims to give children in Vanuatu a basic understanding of the justice system, the role of courts, and the functions of law.

Following discussions with the Ministry of Education and the Curriculum Unit, the Teaching Resources for Civic Subject will now be presented to the MoET for integration into the education curriculum.

These resources will introduce teachers and students to various types of laws in Vanuatu, how they are established, applied, and enforced. The materials will begin by exploring principles of justice and professionalism for court actors.

CJ Lunabek expressed his hope that these teaching resources will foster informed discussions among teachers and students, leading to improved access to justice and service delivery for the people of Vanuatu.

The resources are available in both English and French.

The teaching resources are structured into weekly sessions, to be spread across Years 11, 12, and 14, with an additional year 14 for Francophone colleges.

The topics covered in these sessions include the state, law, and custom; the constitution; courts; principles of justice; introduction to criminal law and procedure; introduction to civil law and procedure; ethics and conduct; judges, magistrates, and court clerks; police, prosecution, and the bar; and gender and family violence.

The Chief Justice highlighted the Supreme Court of Vanuatu’s longstanding commitment to improving access to justice, particularly for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, women, children, and persons with special needs.

Efforts in this regard date back to 1998 when the court developed processes and steps leading to Domestic Violence Protection Orders, which were used for information and awareness campaigns across Vanuatu.

These processes were later incorporated into the Civil Procedure Rules of Vanuatu in 2000, culminating in the Vanuatu Family Protection Act of 2008.

Since 2016, the Supreme Court has been developing brochures to guide criminal and civil processes in Island Courts, Magistrates Courts, and the Supreme Court.

These brochures also cover child maintenance and domestic violence applications.

They have been distributed to provincial courts and judicial officers during their circuits in the provinces of Vanuatu. So far, a total of 2,000 brochures in English, French, and Bislama have been printed.

Apart from raising public awareness and delivering speeches, the courts recognize the importance of enhancing the competence and confidence of local court justices in their work and decisions. Island Courts, in particular, play a crucial role in providing accessible justice to local communities.

To address this, the Supreme Court partnered with the University of the South Pacific (USP) in 2018 to trial the Teaching Resources through the Certificate of Justice Program.

This program has seen six justices from each court in Vanuatu participate, and the success of the initiative has led to its continuation.

In 2023 alone, 18 justices from Efate, Malekula, and Santo Island Courts have undertaken the program, with plans to graduate them by the year’s end.

The Supreme Court intends to extend the Certificate of Justice program to other Island Courts in the future, with the support of the USP, Dr. Livingstone Armitage, the Judicial Development and Training Coordinator of the Supreme Court of Vanuatu, Mrs. Wendy Raptigh, and funding assistance from the New Zealand Government.

To ensure the successful implementation of the Teaching Resources, the Supreme Court plans to provide a Trainer of Trainers Session for senior civic curriculum officers.

According to CJ Lunabek, this session will familiarise them with the resources and address any questions or concerns.

Ongoing support and assistance will be provided as needed for future refresher training.