National Land Development Taskforce Report: NGO response

1 Nov 2008

It is generally undisputed that Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) interact with rural communities on a daily basis and thus represent the voice of the silent majority throughout PNG who do not have access to mass media and thus have no knowledge of vital news and information. NGOs in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have always opposed customary land registration not because we are against change in all manner and form, rather, the timing and the process of effecting change has always been done exclusive of NGOs thus preventing our input into discussions on how change should occur.

Where our input has been allowed, it is usually for the sake of being seen to have consulted NGOs.

Since the proposal for a National Land Development Program (NLDP) and subsequent establishment of the National Land Development Taskforce (NLDT), NGOs have maintained that they have never been adequately consulted, as a group, although the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR) sat on one of the NLDT committee. It is also evident that public consultations were “meticulously structured” and key stakeholders were grouped and invited to these meetings1. None of these groups appear to be NGOs nor were we formally invited and consulted. It took one newspaper advertisement2 by a coalition of NGOs for NLDT to decide they should meet the NGOs so they do not “mix the issue and confuse the public on the issue of customary land registration”.

NGOs have been, since this newspaper advertisement, invited to attend the Pacific Lands Conference4. Subsequent to this conference, a meeting was organized on 30th July 2008, at the Hideaway Hotel, Port Moresby, between the NLDT and the NGOs – a meeting that ideally should have taken place during the public consultations and before the final report was tabled in Parliament.

This submission is a result of an undertaking at the Hideaway meeting. The submission has been compiled after review of a copy of the NLDT Final Report provided during this meeting, as well as nternal consultations with partner NGOs.

1 National Land Development Taskforce Report, March 2007, page 110, paras 6 & 7

3 Mr Esekia Warvi member of the NLDT at a meeting with NGOs on 30th July 2008, Hideaway
Hotel, Port Moresby

4 12-13 June 2008, Port Vila, Vanuatu

 

Full report can be accessed here: http://aidwatch.org.au/sites/aidwatch.org.au/files/NGO%20Submission%20to%20NLDT%20November%202008.pdf