by Gwen Green
On May 29, 2015, the U.S. Department of State issued a final rule amending the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”) to rescind its previous policy of denying the export of defense articles and defense services to Fiji. The final rule, effective May 29, 2015, comes approximately eight months after Fiji held the first democratic elections in the country since retired Rear Adm. Voreqe Bainimarama seized control in a military coup in 2006.
The Multinational Observer Group (“MOG”), representing 14 countries including the United States, was invited by the acting Fijian Government to observe the September 2014 parliamentary elections, which resulted in the landslide victory of Bainimarama’s Fiji First Party. In April 2015, the MOG released its final report on the Fijian elections finding, “The outcome of the 2014 Fijian Election broadly represented the will of the Fijian voters. The conditions were in place for Fijians to exercise their right to vote freely.”
In the final rule, the Department of State explained it has therefore determined it is in the best interests of U.S. foreign policy, national security, and human rights concerns to rescind its previous policy of denying defense exports to Fiji.