Parliamentary Counsel Office legislative drafting assistance to Pacific nations evaluation report

Political development Foreign aid Law Parliament New Zealand Pacific Area

Since 2011 Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) has funded the New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO) to provide assistance to Pacific Islands’ officials responsible for drafting legislation. The PCO Pacific Desk prioritised assistance to the Crown Law Offices (CLOs) of the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau. Assistance has since been provided to other Pacific Island Countries (PICs) on an ad hoc basis.

This formative evaluation presents findings from a desk-based document review and key informant interviews with CLO and MFAT staff, local lawyers and representatives from regional agencies and networks. The evaluation assessed the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the assistance provided by PCO.

Overall, the assistance has proven an effective and efficient approach to supporting the development of legislation, for the Cook Islands and Niue in particular. The assistance is highly valued by the CLOs and has contributed to an improvement in the overall quality of local legislation providing clarity, consistency and certainty. It is expected to have a sustainable impact on good governance and business practice in the long-term.

The current model for assistance should be maintained, focusing on drafting to demand for the CLOs. Engagement with MFAT, specifically the bi-lateral programmes, should be strengthened. In addition, the training and mentoring component of the Activity could be enhanced by: increasing the number of visits per year, and providing an opportunity for Pacific Islands’ locals to undertake a placement with PCO. Options for capability building targeting increased sustainability of the Activity should be explored with the CLOs and PICs.

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