Civil Society Briefs: Vanuatu
Asian Development Bank | June 2017
Important concepts for understanding civil society in Vanuatu are wantok, “big man,” and kastom. Wantok are the ties that bind kinship, language, and clan groups, and these ties can cut across organizational and political groups, including civil society. Wantok ensures a high level of community participation and social protection, but it also creates reciprocity and obligations between kin. The related concept of “big men” is also important in Vanuatu, which ties in with the chiefly system and those who can earn power and status by working for the community. Chiefly systems are informed by kastom, which is often understood as “tradition,” “custom” or “customary law” and in some cases is often used as a metronym for the “chiefly system.” Kastom is a fluid concept that is specific to place, and embodies the distinctiveness of different groups.
CitationAsian Development Bank. 2017. Civil Society Briefs: Vanuatu. © Asian Development Bank. http://hdl.handle.net/11540/7767. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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