Peace Garden in Suva, Fiji

History of the conflict in Fiji

Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1970, Fiji has suffered four military coups, with the last taking place in 2006.

Although this political instability has complex causes, ethno-political divisions between the Indo-Fijian and indigenous Fijian communities are generally accepted as a major underlying factor. Historically these divisions have been nurtured and used for political gain. 

This division originated in Fiji’s pre-independence history, with colonial rulers separating political power along ethnic lines. Four decades of independence have seen Fijian politics becoming increasingly polarised, with a tendency to use force to resolve political disputes. 

The Bainimarama Government in Fiji

One of the primary reasons provided by the military leader, Frank Bainimarama, for the 2006 coup was to change these ethnically focused political structures. In 2009 the Bainimarama Government introduced broad censorship and assembly restrictions under public emergency regulations. They also initiated an extensive reform process, including substantial law, public service and land reforms. 

The years of emergency restrictions have undoubtedly brought changes to Fiji’s media landscape, while stifling civic activity and public challenge. Fiji has also become increasingly isolated from its old international friends and groupings, while developing new relationships and new allies, for example with China and Russia. 

Our work in Fiji

Building on our long history in the context, we work with our partners to address the underlying drivers of Fiji’s political and social divisions.

Our partners engage with these issues through a range of interventions including community-level workshops on public participation, multi-stakeholder dialogues on key themes such as gender and multiculturalism, and the building of community leaders’ peacebuilding and advocacy skills.