Fiji

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Tom Mullikin served as an ABA – UNDP International Legal Resource Center Team Leader of a group of 52 attorneys from across the globe completing a comprehensive analysis report on the Republic of Fiji’s Mineral and Seabed Mining legislation. Mullikin, as Team Leader, worked closely with the ILRC, UNDP/Fiji, and local stakeholders.  As the official liaison, he travelled to Fiji on two different occasions in order to gather information for the project and present the experts’ findings.

In September 2013, Mullikin went on his first trip to Fiji and met with UNDP/Fiji and local stakeholders.  As the Team Leader, he wanted a better understanding of the legal landscape and realistic context of Fiji. Mullikin had separate meetings with the Mineral Development Technical Committee, which included the Ministry of Planning; Mineral Resources Department for Groundwater; and the Department of the Environment, Revenue and Customs Authority. Additionally, he met with the iTaukei Ministry and Board, the Mining and Quarry Council and an Advocacy Coordinator for the Social Empowerment and Education Program.  The in-person meetings with all of the stakeholders that would be impacted by Fiji’s Mineral legislation proved to be a very important and an effective measure to understand the Fijian context, culture, and objectives. Mullikin’s meetings were an overwhelming success and tremendously supported the quality of the ILRC report and recommendations.

Mullikin visited Fiji for the second time at the beginning of April 2014 to present the experts’ recommendations on how to amend the Mineral and Seabed Mining legislation. The key participants included UNDP/Fiji and the Fiji Government’s Mineral Development Executive Committee (Permanent Secretary of Lands and Mineral Resources along with officials from the Department of Mining, Office of Attorney General, Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, and other departments). Additionally, Mullikin was invited to participate in roundtable discussions following his presentation on the Four Pillars of Success. His presentation and other discussions focused on 1) Prudent, Efficient, and Sustainable Relationship with Nature; 2) Financial Security for Fiji; 3) Appellate Review - Transparency and Accountability; and 4) Public Participation. These roundtable discussions facilitated a forum that encouraged free flowing ideas and healthy atmosphere to determine the best avenue for Fiji.

Furthermore, while in Fiji, Mullikin explored various areas and indigenous villages. He had the opportunity to visit villages near the Salad Bowl of Fiji, an area that produces great amounts of fruits and vegetables for Fiji. The Salad Bowl is located in the Sigatoka Valley, near the Sigatoka River. During his expedition to tour the cannibal caves in the area, he had to cross the Sigatoka River.  Mullikin learned that in 2012, a British couple raised money for the village to build a preschool. In an effort to help provide for the children, Mullikin met with the Chief from the Village of Toga to ask for his permission and blessing to contribute to the children in some way. The Chief of Toga granted them permission to donate funds to build a library for all reading levels of children that have to cross the river to go to school. This library will be named after Mullikin's loving wife and called the Virginia Ann Mullikin Library.