3rd Meeting of the Pacific Legislative Drafters’ Technical Forum
23 – 25 July 2012, PIFS Conference Centre, Suva
Closing remarks by Ms Andie Fong Toy
Deputy Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
Wednesday 25 July 2012
Parliamentary Counsel, Solicitors General, and
other senior lawyers of Forum Members
Representatives of development partners, regional and observer organisations
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. I have the privilege this afternoon of closing this 3rd meeting of the Pacific Legislative Drafters’ Technical Forum. But before I do so, I wish to offer a few remarks and also to congratulate you all for a very successful meeting.
2. Firstly, I would like to reiterate the very important statements made by the Secretary General in his opening remarks about the essential role played by legislative drafters in upholding and maintaining the rule of law.
3. As this meeting draws to an end, I believe you now have a clearer understanding of how central legislative drafters are to the promotion and achievement of the rule of law.
4. Quality legislative drafting services are critical for the rule of law. Such services enable Forum governments to more effectively develop legislation necessary to give legal effect to national policies and increasing commitments under regional and international treaties.
5. I therefore encourage you all to use this meeting’s outcomes to assist with your respective tasks to help advance the rule of law in your countries.
6. We are very pleased with the full representation at this meeting of the 15 Forum Member Countries, as well as representation from the relevant external partner agencies. This level of representation clearly shows the importance attached by Forum Members to the Pacific Legislative Drafters’ Technical Forum.
7. This is perhaps also the first opportunity in a long time for such a regional meeting of both legislative drafters and legislative drafting assistance providers. Over the past 3 days, you have heard about the status of each other’s legislative drafting services. I understand that a considerable amount of information has been shared, discussed and recorded at this meeting, particularly regarding current and ongoing legislative drafting issues faced by Forum Island Countries.
8. The main issues discussed, including capacity constraints, lack of policy skills, and incompetent technical assistance, are not new ones. You have had productive exchanges of views and ideas on ways to improve current legislative drafting services and overcome current and ongoing legislative drafting issues. You have also identified from this meeting that despite these continuing issues, there have, in fact, been a number of considerable developments and improvements.
9. We are grateful for everyone’s insightful contributions, which have led to practical and agreed strategies for improving legislative drafting services in our region. We need to continue addressing these issues as best we can with the resources available to us.
10. I certainly hope that the presentations and discussions over the past 3 days have enabled you to draw lessons and experiences from one another that you can all take back and recommend to your respective countries and organisations.
11. We thank you all for sharing your experiences, and your endurance, throughout these 3 days. We are particularly impressed by the depth of the presentations which reflect the considerable thought put into each of the presentations.
12. A special thanks to our main development partners – the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Australia Attorney-General’s Department and Office of Parliamentary Counsel, as well as the New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office – for their continuing assistance in developing Pacific legislative drafters. We also recognise our own Pacific Island experts present here today and thank you for your valuable contributions.
13. I also wish to congratulate the organisers for the excellent organisation of this meeting.
14. In concluding, I am drawn to the following passage from the notable
legislative drafter, Professor Vincent Crabbe, in his article entitled The
Ethics of Legislative Drafting (March 2010):
“When the wisdom of the politician fails and economic, political and social problems are at hand, when the administrator’s wits are at an end and his mental fuse burns out, when the tyres of the social reformer blow out, legislation then becomes immanent and Parliamentary Counsel are called upon for their skills of drafting to sort out the myriad complexities of human frailty. Thankfully, they do not waste their sweetness on the desert air”.
15. I think this passage aptly describes the sophisticated drafting skills
and judgement which makes legislative drafters such a significant
resource in any country’s government.
16. With these words, I now declare the meeting closed, and wish you all safe travels back to your respective destinations.