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Vanuatu[1] [print]

Last edited: February 2006


Summary and Analysis


Vanuatu ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC] in the 1992 authorization of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Ratification) Act and the subsequent publication of the act in the official gazette in 1993.[2]  The Convention on the Rights of the Child (Ratification) Act made the CRC binding upon Vanuatu.[3]

After an extensive search, we were unable to find evidence of the existence of official child protective proceedings in Vanuatu.  There are, however, several NGOs working in the child protection arena, including Save the Children and UNICEF.  Also, though there appears to be no law on child protection, the Civil Procedure Rules includes a section on domestic violence which provides family members with the right to apply for a protection order.[4]  The legislation does not make clear the processes by which a child may be removed from her home, nor does it provide children with the right to participate in proceedings or specify if children may apply for protection orders.[5] 

Several factors impede the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Vanuatu.  The country's geography alone makes implementation extremely difficult.  Vanuatu is a chain of over eighty islands, sixty-five of which are currently inhabited and many of which are quite far apart.[6]  The country's economy is largely agricultural, but its crops were largely destroyed in February of 2005 by Cyclone Ivy.[7]  The cyclone also extensively damaged housing and infrastructure.[8]  Furthermore, traditional values hamper the implementation of the CRC's Article 12, which provides for the right of children to voice their opinions in all matters affecting them.  In its report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 1997, the government of Vanuatu wrote:

Traditionally, the children of Vanuatu do not express their views freely. This does not mean that they were prevented from doing so, but is due to the fact that the traditional way of learning by children is through seeing, hearing and practising, i.e. a child has to see what adults are doing and practise the thing so that he can do the thing himself, and has to listen carefully to what others say, especially adults, in order to gain knowledge.[9]


Related Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)



Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu[10]

5. (1) The Republic of Vanuatu recognises, that, subject to any restrictions imposed by law on non-citizens, all persons are entitled to the following fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual without discrimination on the grounds of race, place of origin, religious or traditional beliefs, political opinions, language or sex but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and to the legitimate public interest in defence, safety, public order, welfare and health-

. . . (k) equal treatment under the law or administrative action, except that no law shall be inconsistent with this sub-paragraph insofar as it makes provision for the special benefit, welfare, protection or advancement of females, children and young persons, members of under-privileged groups or inhabitants of less developed areas.


7. Every person has the following fundamental duties to himself and his descendants and to others-

. . . (h) in the case of a parent, to support, assist and educate all his children, legitimate and illegitimate, and in particular to give them a true understanding of their fundamental rights and duties and of the national objectives and of the culture and customs of the people of Vanuatu.

International Law

Convention on the Rights of the Child,[11] ratified May 3, 1993

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.




[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Convention on the Rights of the Child (Ratification) Act, No. 26 of 1992 (1993) available http://www.paclii.org/vu/legis/num_act/cotrotca1992467/.

[3] Id, § 1(2).

[4] Civil Procedure Rules, No. 49 of 2002, pt. 16, div. 4 (2002) available http://www.paclii.org/vu/rules/CPRules2002/CPRMain.html.

[5] Id.

[6] Central Intelligence Agency, Vanuatu, in World Factbook (2006) available http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/nh.html.

[7] Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Human Rights Report: Vanuatu, U.S. State Department, ¶3 (2005), available http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41664.htm.

[8] Id.

[9] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial  reports of States parties due in 1995: Vanuatu, ¶112, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/28/Add.8 (May 26, 1997) available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/d29c5df777ac4b59802565240055b862?Opendocument.

[10] Vanuatu Const., No. 10 of 1980, § 5(1)(k), 7(h) (1985) available http://www.paclii.org/vu/legis/consol_act/cotrov406/ and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[11] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989), available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.


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