Empowering the Future: Youth-Led Battle Against Corruption in Solomon Islands
December 6, 2023
Honiara, Solomon Islands: Corruption undermines the principles of democracy and is one of the major obstacles to achieving sustainable development in Solomon Islands.
In its efforts to promote transparency and accountability, and combating corruption, the United Nations development Programme (UNDP) Solomon Islands – under the Transparency and Accountability Project (TAP) – entrusted me with the duty to conduct anti-corruption training for youth in different provinces of the country.
Supported by the Government of Japan, alongside the Government of Solomon Islands, it has been an incredible journey to lead these workshops across my country. I am a lawyer by trade but as a trainer and advocate I have discovered that I am truly committed to empowering the future leaders of my country, witnessing their enthusiasm and determination in the fight against corruption.
The Anti-Corruption for Youth workshop journey began in Gizo, Western Province, where participants gathered to delve into the intricacies of corruption, understanding its nuances, and identifying ways to combat it. Around 30 young participants learned about different corruption offences, how to identify them and the appropriate mechanisms to report them as provided for under the Anti-Corruption Act 2018 and the Whistleblowers Act 2018.
Participants also learned about the mandates of the different national accountability institutions such as the Office of Auditor General (OAG), Office of the Director of Prosecutions (ODPP), Solomon Islands Financial Intelligence Unit (SIFIU), Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), Independent Commission Against Corruption (SIICAC), Leadership Code Commission (LCC), Office of the Ombudsman, the Parliament, and the Public Service Commission particularly how their work contribute to combat corruption. The dedication they showed to learn is truly commendable.
The impact of these workshops expanded beyond Gizo, resonating in Honiara and Renbel Province, where representatives from youth councils absorbed the same knowledge emerging armed with the tools necessary to instigate change. It's inspiring to feel them empowered and equipped with the relevant knowledge on Solomon Islands political and legal environment, the anti-corruption global agenda, the current national anti-corruption initiatives, in-depth knowledge about corruption offences in the Solomon Islands and how to combat corruption by correctly reporting it.
The essence of my mission unfolds when these empowered youths commit themselves to action. As an outcome of the training, participants need to plan anti-corruption activities for them to implement in their respective wards. Honiara City Council youths organized themselves in three groups representing East, Central and West Honiara. Renbel Province participants formed one group. Among other activities, all four groups identified the corruption offense of election bribery as the focus of their anti-corruption activities.
These anti-corruption trainings for youths are in line with the Solomon Islands National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which provides for the engagement of civil society in the fight against corruption at all levels. And my mission continues after the trainings, since the project is further supporting youth groups to implement anti-corruption activities in their wards. Through follow-up activities, I see the dedication to achieving real change in their communities.
More recently, in Auki, Malaita Province, representatives from the Malaita Provincial Youth Council had the opportunity to attend my training where it took on an even deeper resonance. They started by singing the Solomon Islands' National Anthem and harmonizing their aspirations with the ongoing Pacific Games' spirit of "Fair Play", where they understood the significance of applying this principle in combating corruption, ensuring that the sportsmanship of the games resonates with the values of democracy.
Participants then explored the foundations of the Solomon Islands nation – starting with the National Constitution. They engaged in critical discussions on how as young leaders, they can actively contribute to the fight against corruption, epitomizing the spirit of active engagement and civic responsibility.
After the workshop, participants have also been tasked with designing and leading awareness sessions within their communities, spreading their knowledge gained. The true essence of these workshops lies not merely in imparting knowledge but in catalyzing action. Empowering these young minds to lead community awareness sessions marks a pivotal step towards fostering a society free of corruption.
The Anti-Corruption for Youth series isn't just about workshops; it's a movement. It's about cultivating a generation armed with knowledge, determination, and a shared vision to build a transparent, accountable, and corruption-free society in the Solomon Islands. The engagement of civil society, aligned with the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, reinforces our belief that together, we can create meaningful change.
As I reflect on these transformative experiences, I'm filled with hope. The passion, dedication, and thirst for change displayed by my youth compatriots are the seeds of a brighter future. They stand poised, not just as future leaders, but as present champions against corruption.
Solomon Kalu is a lawyer, trainer and advocate for Anti-Corruption in Solomon Islands.
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