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Peacebuilders in Vanuatu

Halling William

The Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu nominated Mr Halling William to come to the Sydney Peacebuilders program in 2006. He has been the head of Local Government on the main island of Efate, where Port Vila is located. In this position he has been responsible for organizing reconciliations when there was a major conflict. His most significant reconciliation was conducted after the collapse of the National Provident Fund. The protests, strike, violence and property destruction associated with the collapse of NPF required a state of emergency, and parliament was unable to meet at the time. Many people lost their life savings and there was much economic suffering as a result. Small enterprises collapsed.

Mr William used the cultural resources and his Christian beliefs to direct the reconciliation. His coming to Peacebuilders enabled him to reflect on the experiences he had had and to develop thoughtful strategies for dealing with other current conflicts.

A man with his experience has wide influence throughout Vanuatu. On his return, he began to implement a range of strategies in order to build sustainable peace. His first concerns have been to create teaching and training programs to enable grass-roots people to embrace non-violence. He has been working with the Prime Minister to identify areas of conflict that need addressing. These include situations of enmity that have persisted from the period of conflict leading up to independence, and others are related to land conflicts.

Mr William sees the need for capacity building training especially for chiefs and for women.