Constitutional change in Fiji: The apparatus of justification

Stephanie Lawson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The discriminatory racial and other non-democratic provisions which feature in the new constitution of the ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic of Fiji’ have been justified by the regime, at least superficially, on the grounds that they are essential for the protection and enhancement of indigenous Fijian rights and interests. This justification is underscored by two further related, claims which serve to promote the view that western democratic principles and practices are unsuitable to Fiji's political environment. First, the nature of Fiji's plural society is said to constitute a prima facie barrier to the peaceful conduct of western-style democratic politics. Secondly, it is claimed that the 1970 Constitution of Fiji represented the imposition of essentially alien values on a pre-existing ‘traditional', and more legitimate, political framework. The purpose of this article is to evaluate these claims and to demonstrate that the new constitution is, in most respects, an instrument of Fijian chiefly domination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-84
Number of pages24
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


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