As the pre-independence Papua New Guinea Constitutional Planning Committee rummaged the length and breadth of what was soon to be the new PNG, the many thoughts of the citizens were given. These were all compiled into what we call the National Goals and Directive Principles.
The very first goal outlines what the Constitutional Planning Committee wanted every citizen Papua New Guinea to reach, in order to unify and strengthen the state.
In simplified terms, Integral Human Development is the ‘creation of a person that is ‘whole’ or a ‘complete being’ within the state of Papua New Guinea. In the Constitutional Planning Committee Report (1974) it is written:
This means that we use the term development to mean nothing less than the unending process of improvement of every man and woman as a whole person. We take our stand on the dignity and worth of each Papua New Guinean man, woman and child.
‘Dignity’ and ‘worth’ of every Papua New Guinean is what the citizens wanted as the very first goal of Papua New Guinea as a nation as from 1975. The people wanted the independent state of Papua New Guinea to be the catalyst towards citizens respecting each other. Through citizens seeing value in each other, development should flow freely for all, the First Goal argues.
When the lawmakers tapped into Integral Human Development, they addressed the human person as a ‘whole’. For in the ‘whole’ human person, we connote the three main parts of a person: a man is made up of the spiritual, physical and mental components. Manifestation into these parts meant the Constitution was truly holistic. It was dedicating itself into getting every PNG citizen to be free spiritually, physically and mentally.
In the spiritual aspect of life, for example, the National Constitution was to uphold the Melanesian traditions, cultures or norms that connect the man to his environment. I say this because Melanesians were spiritual beings long before Western colonisation of our islands.
In terms of physical well-being, by enshrining Integral Human Development as priority number one, the government was telling the world that it would provide for its citizens. Equality, fairness and justice in the political, economic and social spheres was its obligation. This would imply, for example, that poverty would be eradicated for every citizen. In terms of mental well-being, the first goal implies the state is to provide easy access to services such as education and health care, without discrimination.
To the Constitutional Planning Committee, providing these things were the new nation’s top duty. It recognised that by a total commitment to the people, the newly independent nation could create a stable and viable state where every person was free to access and benefit from every development in Papua New Guinea.
To me, positive change for Papua New Guinea’s progress was well catered for on paper. The National Goals provide a nice foundation for any nation builder’s strategizing. But the leadership, on the other hand, were already engaged in denying citizens from seeing his or her fellow countryman or woman as having his or her own ‘dignity and worth’.
Inequality and injustice was what the colonial administration blessed the government of Papua New Guinea with to start off as an independent country, directly contradicting its written laws including National Goal number one.
A classic case in this regard is my Solomon island of Bougainville. The Government of Papua New Guinea was not willing to respect our ‘dignity and worth’ as non-Papua New Guineans. It was not willing to allow us to develop with our own values, despite goal number one, and despite being a member of the United Nations that protects minorities or marginalised peoples against all forms of genocide, exploitation and suppression.
At the cost of Bougainvillean land and people’s ‘dignity and worth’, Papua New Guinea was trying to get the new state up and running economically. Our dignity and worth was nothing to the state, which was built to sustain the bicycle tyre called Papua New Guinea and not those spokes that strengthen that tyre to carry the country.
And today, despite our very first goal being ‘Integral Human Development’, we still witness Papua New Guineans denying each others’ dignity and worth.
In summary, Integral Human Development is for the state to empower each individual citizen’s dignity and worth in its own unique setting for a harmonious national sustenance and developmental progress. But, for Papua New Guinea, the respect for its citizen’s dignity and worth has been neglected in the name of national progress, at the expense of the development of each citizen as a whole person.