Last Updated on Monday, 7 February 2011 11:39

{accordion mode=”manually” select=”1″ event=”click” animated=”slide” theme=”overcast” autoheight=”false”} Geography ::

Total land area 21km2 [1]
Exclusive economic zone (EEZ) area 320,000km2 [1]

|||| People ::

Resident population (2008 estimate) 9,570 [2]
Population forecast (2015) 11,006 [2]
Annual population growth rate (2008-15) 2.1%
Population density (2008) 456/km2
Women in parliament 0 out of 18 seats
Human Development Index score 0.647[5]

|||| Government ::

Nauru has a volatile political history, with over 36 changes of government since independence in 1968, with 17 changes of administration between 1989 and 2003. In 1997 there were four different presidents in as many months. Following seven years of discussion and negotiation, the country held its first ever constitutional referendum on 27 February 2010 in a bid to change the system and structures of government. Notably, the Constitution of Nauru (Referendum Amendments) Bill 2009 sought to change to a directly elected president (instead of one chosen by parliament), clarify the roles of the President and Cabinet and to provide stronger mechanisms for ensuring stability and continuity of government. In total there were 34 proposed changes to the Constitution with voters given the option of a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote for the entire package of changes. Voter turnout was reportedly high (78%) with the proposed amendments to the Constitution rejected by majority of almost two thirds. The Constitutional Review Committee (a Standing Committee of Parliament, which existed from December 2006 to February 2007 for the purpose of making recommendations regarding constitutional amendments) met following the referendum and resolved to conduct a survey to better understand the reasons for the failure of the referendum, and assess attempting a second referendum on some or all of the proposed referendum amendments. Not every change to the Constitution required approval by referendum. In August 2009 the parliament passed the Constitution of Nauru (Parliamentary Amendments) Act 2009 (which will not commence until amended, to remove cross-references to provisions that would have been in the Constitution had the referendum succeeded). The Act introduces a number of constitutional changes including: a Speaker of Parliament who is a non-member; the addition of an extra member of Parliament, making court appeals more accessible by removing the need for Nauru citizens to appeal decisions to the High Court of Australia; tightening accounting controls on public spending; the introduction of a code of leadership for MPs and public officials and the creation of an ombudsman’s office. The bill also contained provisions for a new public service commission, however this was removed by the Committee of the Whole and was not included in the approved Act.Nauru is an independent parliamentary representative democratic republic with an 18 member unicameral parliament. Independence was gained on 31 January 1968 from the Australia, New Zealand and British administered United Nations trusteeship.

Head of State and Government Caretaker President – H.E. Hon. Marcus Stephen is both head of state and head of the executive branch of government. The president is elected by Parliament and serves a three year term, subject to retaining the confidence of the House. In practice, it has been rare for a President to serve a whole term of Parliament due to changes in government through motions of no confidence. The 18 members of parliament are elected for a maximum (not fixed) three year term in multi-seat constituencies. Each constituency returns two members to the parliament, except for Ubenide which returns four. Voting is compulsory for all citizens aged over 20 years. Following the national election held on 24 April 2010, the parliament was deadlocked with nine members on government and oppostion sides. A subsequent election held 19 June 2010 also returned a hung parliament. The caretaker president imposed a state of emergency while the country remains in political deadlock.
Executive The Constitution specifies that the Cabinet is composed of the President, and a Deputy President and four or five other members of parliament appointed by the President. There are 13 government ministries split between the current 5 cabinet members: – Ministry of Home Affairs – Ministry of Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust – Ministry of Police and Emergency Services – Ministry of Public Service – Ministry of Finance and Sustainable Development – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Ministry of Education – Ministry of Fisheries – Ministry of Health – Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Environment – Ministry of Justice, Border Control and Correctional Services – Ministry of Sports – Ministry of Telecommunications – Ministry of Transport
Civil Service The civil service currently employs an estimated 1,217 workers, approximately 40 percent of the formal workforce. Nauru’s financial collapse and subsequent reforms have resulted in a down-sizing of the civil service, which at one point had exceeded 3,000 workers. Since 2004, the government, with assistance from its donor partners, has been undertaking a range of reforms across the public service, including restructuring the Human Resource Department, revising salaries and enhancing performance monitoring measures. However, performance audits and evaluations remain uncommon in the public sector. The proposed introduction of a Public Service Commission in 2010 was intended to better coordinate the recruitment, monitoring and training of government officers in a bid to restore public trust in the civil service and machinery of government.
Local Government Nauru lacks an urban space and has no official capital. Government offices are in Yaren District and the majority of the population live in small settlements around the narrow coastal strip. The Nauru Local Government Council (NLGC) was dissolved in 1992 and the Nauru Island Council (NIC) was a short-lived successor as an advisory body to the national government on local matters. The NIC no longer exists, and there is no formal system of local government. There are fourteen districts which are grouped into eight electoral constituencies. Most districts have elected community committees, but these are informal structures for local purposes (such as fund-raising, district clean-ups, vegetable growing etc.) and do not have any formal mechanism of liaison with government. Due to the small size of the country it is not surprising that decentralisation is not a significant element in ongoing reforms.
Judiciary The Supreme Court of Nauru is the highest court on Nauru and is presided over by the Chief Justice of Nauru. Appeals against decisions of the Supreme Court can be brought before the High Court of Australia in all matters other than constitutional matters. The District Court is presided over by a Resident Magistrate, who is also the Registrar of the Supreme Court. The Family Court is also presided by the Resident Magistrate as Chairman of a three- member panel. There are two other quasi-courts established under the Constitution: The Public Service Appeal Board and the Police Appeal Board. Both are presided over by the Chief Justice of Nauru as the chairman of the panel with two members for each board. The Nauru Lands Committee also serves as a quasi-judicial body.
International Organisations ACP, ADB, AOSIS, C, FAO, ICAO, ICCt, Interpol, IOC, ITU, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WHO. Nauru became a member of the United Nations in 1999.

|||| National Strategy and Goals ::

Nauru’s National Sustainable Development Strategy 2005-2025 (NSDS) serves as the country’s blueprint for reform, recovery and development as it endeavours to reform and rebuild its institutions and economy. The NSDS articulates five overarching goals, which are to establish a stable and fiscally responsible government; improve infrastructure and basic services; diversify and grow the economy; rehabilitate mined lands for livelihood sustainability; and improve domestic food production. A review of the NSDS in 2009 showed that while much progress has been made, many constraints prevail including the significant lack of capacity to implement reforms and meet the various onerous international legal obligations, as well as the substantial fiscal cost of maintaining basic services to the community. Strong and sustained commitment to reform will be essential, not only to restore the basic functionality of the public finance system and the broader public sector, but more importantly to strengthen the country’s accountability mechanisms and to restore its overall credibility. State owned enterprises (SOEs) continue to pose major systemic risk on a still- frail public finance system, both in terms of current subsidy requirements as well as contingent liability risk. Restructuring SOEs is an important strategic goal under the NSDS. Phosphate mining revenues fuelled a rapid fiscal and economic expansion from the late 1960s through the late 1980s. Portions of the windfalls were invested in a series of national trust funds whose collective market value had reached A$1.5 billion by 1990. For a period Nauru’s per capita income was amongst the highest in the world. However, investment losses, mismanagement and pervasive accountability weaknesses led to a rapid run-down in trust fund assets, which in turn precipitated one of the most rapid fiscal and economic collapses ever witnessed. While some reform progress has been made in recent times, public financial management remains a critical challenge. Strengthening the public financial management system is a core goal of the National Sustainable Development Strategy 2005-2025 (NSDS), and ongoing reforms aim to establish a stable, trustworthy, and fiscally responsible government. The government adopted a medium-term fiscal policy in 2004, which has helped improve budgetary planning and management. Nauru has also enacted specific legislation to abolish offshore banking, resulting in its removal from the Financial Action Task Force black list. Donor transfers, fisheries revenue, phosphate royalties and dividends, and sales of fuel products are the primary non-tax revenue sources (see Chart 2 opposite). Official transfers made up over 50 percent of total revenue over the 2009/10 period, with Australia the largest contributor. Australia injected an estimated A$23.4 million in total development assistance in 2009-10, much of which is channelled through Nauru government financial systems. Efforts are underway to grow revenue flows from secondary (“residual”) mining activity, which commenced in 2007. ADB reports that upwards of US$700 million worth of mining revenue may be available over the next 20 years, and is providing technical assistance to re-establish a national trust fund to be established at some point in the future. The government managed to achieve budget surpluses in five of the past six fiscal years, and budgeted a small surplus of A$50,000 in 2008/09. Nauru’s solvency position remains extremely weak. As of 2008 external and domestic debt estimates stood at A$370 and A$635 million respectively, giving Nauru one of the highest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world. The government has established a debt management strategy to deal with this staggering debt burden, initially concentrating on the external debts.


“Partnership for Quality of Life”

National Goals [6]

Stable, trustworthy, fiscally responsible government. Provision of enhanced social, infrastructure and utilities services. Development of an economy based on multiple sources of revenue. Rehabilitation of mined out lands for livelihood sustainability. Development of domestic food production.
Sector Goals, Strategies, Milestones, KPIs
Macroeconomic Framework and Fiscal Objectives
Annual Budget allocations
NPP/Project approval process for Aid donor funded programmes
Ministry/Department Operational Plans (reflecting budgetary allocations and donor projects)
Activities of Departments; Constitutional Bodies; SOEs, Civil Society, Communities
Development Outcomes – measured by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

|||| Economy ::

GNI per person 2007 (Atlas method) US$2,310 [2]
GDP current (2007 estimate) US$19.2m [3]
GDP per capita (2007 estimate) US$2,181 [3]

Labour market‚ Formal sector

Number of employees 2,603 [4]
% of workforce 79% [4]
% Female 45% [4]
% Public sector 42% [4]
% Private sector 58% [4]

Nauru’s economy remains in a critical condition. The NSDS includes a number of economic reform and management goals, with the short to medium term priorities of stabilising, reviving and diversifying the economy. Aid-financed public expenditure is the main source of economic stimulus, with very little in terms of private sector activity and growth. The public sector’s contribution to both GDP and formal employment stands at around 40 percent. Although GDP estimates for Nauru vary greatly, the economy is known to have contracted significantly over the last decade (see Chart 3 opposite). Continued pressure to reform the public sector presents continued downside risk on national income. Inflation averaged 3 percent from 2004 to 2007, but rose to 4.5 percent in 2008, a result of the global surges in food and fuel prices. Inflation has moderated since 2008. Private sector growth has been extremely limited. Construction, agriculture, tourism and fishing remain underdeveloped and the country’s finance and insurance sectors remain absent. 

|||| Traditional Government ::

Nauru was annexed by Germany in 1888 and its phosphate deposits began to be mined early in the 20th century by a German-British consortium. Nauru was occupied by Australian forces in World War I and subsequently became a League of Nations mandate. The Second World War had a major bearing on the history of Nauru. In 1942, the Japanese invaded, and deported approximately two-thirds of the population. After the war, Nauru became a UN trust territory until it achieved independence in 1968. Despite, or because of this chequered history, national identity remains very strong. All Nauruans are registered at birth under their mother’s clan. Failure to register a child as Nauruan eliminates that person from the entitlements of being Nauruan, particularly access to land rights, and to shares in phosphate revenue. All land in Nauru is held under traditional ownership. Even prior to the discovery and working of the phosphate deposits, ownership of land was an all important matter. Since the late 1920′s land ownership has been determined by the Nauru Lands Committee, although this body was only given legislative backing in 1956. The determination of land ownership before the creation of the committee was undertaken by the Chiefs whose decision could be appealed to the colonial Administrator. Today land is governed under the Lands Act 1976. Under the Customs and Adopted Laws Act, customary law is part of the law of Nauru, but is subordinate to legislation. Informal social control is still maintained within Nauruan families, but formal control rests with the Nauru police force and the judiciary.

|||| Communications ::

There is no independent media in Nauru.

Telephone The government is the regulator and was the provider of all telecom services in Nauru until mid-2009 when Digicel Nauru was awarded a licence to provide mobile services based on the GSM standard.
Internet 300 users as of Dec 2002 [7]. 120 Facebook users (0.86% population) [8].
Newspapers The Government Information Office (part of the President’s Office) publishes the Nauru Bulletin fortnightly. Nauru Media publishes a monthly newspaper.
Television NTV
Radio Radio Nauru like NTV are run by Nauru Media, which is part of the Department of Home Affairs.

|||| Military and Police ::

The Constitution and laws of Nauru do not establish a national defence force. Australia provides for the country’s defence under an informal arrangement. Nauru does maintain a small national police force (approximately 100 regular members and a ‘protection and guarding unti’ of 160 members who provide security for key government infrastructure and are available during emergencies). Regional cooperation efforts exist in monitoring and surveillance for fisheries, including assistance from Australia and New Zealand. Nauru has provided police officers to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands since July 2003. The Australian Government provides support to the Nauru Police Force through the Australian Federal Police, and is supporting a review of the criminal code. The Government of New Zealand provides significant support to the judiciary and Ministry of Justice.

|||| Donor Support ::

Official transfers from donors make up around 50 percent of the national budget, although some aid flows are not reflected in the budget. Nauru receives support from numerous donors and development partners, most prominently Australia, the Asian Development Bank, Japan, the European Union, Taiwan, New Zealand, United States, and regional and international organisations, including United Nations agencies. Ongoing programs support a wide range of governance and public sector reforms and capacity development. Australia’s ongoing development programs are the most extensive and are guided by the Nauru–Australia Partnership for Development. Under the partnership, Australia helps Nauru to progress various aspects of the NSDS with a particular focus on faster progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.


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