Overview and context
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Nationally Determined Contribution (UNFCCC website)
The legal system of the Republic of Vanuatu combines English common law, French civil law and indigenous customary law. The Parliament of Vanuatu is a unicameral legislative body that comprises 52 members, directly elected for four-year terms. The republic was formed in 1980, after 74 years of joint British and French administration. The constitution allows for three arms of government: the executive (Prime Minister and cabinet, also known as the Council of Ministers), the legislature (members of parliament) and the judiciary (judges of the courts).
The Republic of Vanuatu comprises seventeen multi-member constituencies, with the most recent general election held in 2012. The next general election is expected in October 2016. The parliament is derived from the Westminster system and includes a President, elected for a five-year term by members of parliament and the presidents of Vanuatu’s local government councils (who together comprise the Electoral College). The President is largely a figurehead, and may not veto parliamentary legislation unless the Supreme Court considers it to be contrary to the constitution. Parliament elects the Prime Minister from among its members. The cabinet may not number more than 13 (a quarter of the members of parliament), including the Prime Minister. The Malvatumauri (National Council of Chiefs) acts as a formal advisory body to the parliament on issues related to culture and language. Members of this council are elected from district councils of chiefs.
Proposed laws may be private bills (presented by members of parliament who are not ministers) or government bills (presented by ministers). Bills pass through three stages. At the first reading, the bill is presented as a motion to be agreed to in parliament and a debate is held about the principles and merits of the bill. In the second stage, it is automatically passed to a committee of the whole house, unless it is decided to refer it to an ad hoc committee. Ad hoc committees consist of a maximum of seven members of parliament, proportionally representative of the political parties represented in parliament, and follow the same procedures as a committee of the whole house. At the committee stage, the bill is considered and voted section by section. Once a bill has been considered by the committee of the whole house it passes into the third and final stage, known as the second reading. At the second reading, after Parliament reads the bill as amended, a motion is put forward to pass the bill into law at which a final vote is held. All laws are published in English and French. Relevant government departments write roadmaps, action plans and other strategies, which become guiding documents for policy once officially launched by the government.