Working with PIANGO and CCF (Fiji), DTP organised a workshop in Nadi, Fiji with DTP alumni from Fiji, Papua New Guinea/Bougainville, Solomon Islands and Tonga. Over two days DTP alumni from the 1990s through to 2020s reflected on the value and impact of DTP’s courses and discussed how DTP and its alumni can best respond to the diverse human rights, environmental and governance challenges facing civil society in the Pacific.
DTP has over 400 alumni in the Pacific – including those active in the self-determination and decolonisation movements in Kanaky (New Caledonia), West Papua and Bougainville. Alumni include climate action leaders such as Ursula Rakova and environmental human rights defenders such as Jonathan Mesalum, and democracy and civil society leaders such as Emeline Siale Ilolahia.
DTP’s Advisory Council Member, Lopeti Senituli, also participated. Lopeti is one of the Pacific’s best known and most experienced leaders of civil society and democracy movements. There were fascinating insights from alumni about the value of developing skills in “peoples’ diplomacy”. Effective advocacy using international standards and UN mechanisms can be (and has been) a practical way of preventing conflict.
Climate change, Deep Sea Mining and Business and Human Rights were strongly endorsed as priorities for civil society capacity building going forward, as well as skills in engaging with UN and other intergovernmental accountability processes: the Universal Periodic Review, Human Rights Treaty Bodies, the Voluntary National Review (SDGs). It was agreed also that DTP should increase its focus on building its networks of alumni at the national and regional level, and a number of alumni agreed to be national focal points. It was also agreed that DTP should build in a training of trainers approach to its capacity building strategy going forward.
The Alumni Workshop was followed by a day of follow-up training on the UN system, focused on the UPR and VNR processes for the Pacific, and building skills in online security and video advocacy.
DTP acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and from the National Endowment for Democracy for the delivery of this event.