Tuvalu ponders relevance of Queen as Head of State

The status of the Queen as Head of State in Tuvalu will again come under scrutiny as the first public consultation for Tuvalu’s Constitutional Review gets underway. 

“The Constitutional Review process began in 2016 and has undergone a number of different phases. Beginning from Tuvalu’s July 2020 Parliament Session, the Review is being conducted by a Constitutional Review Parliamentary Select Committee composed of five Members of Parliament,” chair of the Committee and Minister for Justice Simon Kofe told Islands Business

The current public consultation process began yesterday (April 19, 2021) and will continue after the end of the April 2021 Parliament Session. Topics include  The Queen as Tuvalu’s Head of State; Tuvalu’s Current Bill of Rights; Its Relationship with Culture and Tradition; and Balancing Culture, Tradition, and Human Rights; and Tuvalu’s System for Selection of the Prime Minister.

Tuvalu, known as Ellice Islands when it was a British colony, adopted its first Constitution when it gained independence in 1978 but this was replaced in 1986 by a new one created by Tuvaluan community leaders and Members of Parliament.

In 2008, a constitutional referendum proposing to replace the Queen with an elected president as Head of State was rejected by the people.

This year, the proposal is again being put before them and while the duration of the consultation process has not been confirmed, Tuvaluans at home and abroad are being encouraged to take part in the event, with an almost nationwide Internet coverage now enabling extensive participation of locals, even those living in outer islands. 

“The Review is highly significant for Tuvalu because it has provided and continues to provide the opportunity for elected representatives and Tuvaluan citizens to consider major issues in the Constitution that may need to be changed or updated, given changing circumstances or the realisation that certain systems could be improved or altered to better fit the Tuvaluan context,” said Kofe, who is also Tuvalu’s Minister for Communication and Foreign Affairs

“Equally, it may be found that certain systems previously thought to require amendment are actually the best possible option for Tuvalu at the current time. Basically, the Review process is a critical time to reflect on the foundations of Tuvalu’s political, social, and economic organization and ensure that the people of Tuvalu have a country that functions best for them.” 

A Polynesian island nation of roughly 11,600 people (2019 census), Tuvalu is currently embarking on a major overhaul as prescribed under its National Strategy for Sustainable Development 2021-2030.