Fiji government’s affirmative action policy was dividing the people of Fiji, CERD observed as it completed its examination of Fiji.
The United Nations Committee’s concluding recommendations and observations on Fiji is expected to be issued late next week.
The Fiji government Wednesday morning responded to questions raised by Committee experts and claimed the government respected the identities of different ethnic communities and continued to promote racial harmony.
Fiji rapporteur Ms Patricia January-Bardill acknowledged that affirmative action was a positive measure and did not contradict provisions of the CERD Convention.
However, she asked how the Fiji Government intended to ensure that “its implementation of the development plan and promotion of a national identity would bring Fijians together rather than divide them”?
The current perception was that the Government was not paying enough attention to the issue of reconciling different Fijian populations. On the contrary it was fuelling disharmony by focusing on the indigenous Fijians only. That issue was of concern to the Committee, Ms January-Bardill said.
She said there was always room for racial reconciliation involving institutional measures. “The government should entrench in its development plans racial harmony. The concept of national unity should also be trenched in any development plan. Without which sustainability might not be attained,” she warned.