Principles for Local Government Legislation

Lessons from the Commonwealth Pacific

image of Principles for Local Government Legislation
Across the Pacific local councils take a variety of different forms, ranging from traditional village structures to fullyfledged municipalities. Whatever form local government takes, an appropriate legislative and regulatory framework is essential to ensure that councils can effectively address the needs of their communities.

This study is designed to help Pacific island countries review and strengthen their existing frameworks. It begins by examining legislation and systems across a range of countries and institutional settings, identifying examples of best practice and areas for improvement. It then presents case studies of three very different legislative frameworks: Fiji, Solomon Islands and Samoa. In the conclusion, the findings are consolidated into ten key principles for effective legislation: fit for purpose; democracy and representation; local empowerment; probity; oversight and support; capacity and sustainability; efficiency, effectiveness and equity; community engagement; intergovernment cooperation; clarity and consistency.

This is an authoritative piece of research that will be extremely valuable to local government practitioners in the Pacific and beyond.



Case Study: Samoa

Samoa comprises two major islands and seven small islands, five of which are uninhabited, with a total area of some 2,830 km2. The country’s population is approximately 180,000, and most people (around 70 per cent) still live in predominantly rural areas. The main island of Upolu houses the capital city, Apia, and about three-quarters of the total population. Nearly all the remainder live on the second major island, Savaii. Apia is home to about 40,000 people, but the urban boundary is difficult to define and Apia’s influence spreads across much of adjoining north-west Upolu. Together, these two areas account for half the population, reflecting sharp increases over the past two decades due to internal migration.


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