The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has expressed its satisfaction over the development related to the first political and electoral reform since Independence, that was passed in Parliament in December 2023.

The above statement was shared by the UNDP Pacific Office Resident Representative in the Republic of Fiji, Ms Munkhtuya Altangerel, during a bilateral meeting that was held between the Minister of Internal Affairs, Johnny Koanapo Rasou, the previous week at the Minister’s Office.

During their meeting Ms Altangerel also expressed the UNDP’s gratification on the innovative Single Harmonised Electoral Act and the Political Party Registration Act and other relevant acts which will give effect to these reforms.

She confirmed that the Vanuatu Electoral Environmental Project (VEEP) will support the crucial process of the referendum.

“This legal reform package supported by VEEP will bring important improvements for political stability and electoral integrity. As a result of this reform package, the electoral authorities are planning to conduct a referendum, which will be the first ever in the country,” Ms Altangerel added.

She assured Minister Koanapo that the UNDP will continue to provide support to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) through VEEP, in the implementation of the new political and electoral reforms package and interoperability across Government under the project (VEEP) before it comes to an end in June 2024; New Zealand has already expressed to continue support through a phase III.

Ms Altangerel also congratulated the MOIA on recent developments related to the establishment of Vanuatu’s first comprehensive digital civil registration system.

This system has a longterm impact for improving voter registration and access to a myriad of services by citizens and the issuance of national IDs to all citizens.

UNDP will assist further including aiding the Ministry in an exploratory visit to one of the key leading countries in civil registry.

VEEP also recently supported the Vanuatu Geo-Data Location Registry Project which standardised the definitions of different categories of villages and communities for the first time, including validation of the spelling of the village names, capturing of the Geographic Information System coordinates, and allocation of a unique identification number.

This is Vanuatu’s first ever official Location Register and was implemented through a Whole-of-Government approach led by the Civil Registration and Identity Management Department under the MOIA, together with the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Environment, Energy, and Disaster Management and other key stakeholders.

She reaffirmed UNDP’s commitment to support the Department of Local Authorities in order to achieve the Ministry’s primary goal to decentralize all government services to the people.

Ms Altangerel also reaffirmed UNDP’s commitment through the Governance for Resilience (Gov4Res) Project to risk improved community projects identified through the Area Councils throughout Vanuatu.

An amount of $2.5 million is being earmarked to assist these community projects across the country.

In response Minister Koanapo assured the UNDP Resident Representative of the Vanuatu Government’s commitment to implement the VEEP and other projects that are being supported by the UNDP.

The discussion also focused on energy projects implemented across Vanuatu through UNDP and the important role of MOIA in ensuring that these energy projects are targeting areas planned as future economic hubs or centres of Vanuatu.