Nadi, Fiji- Representatives from eleven Pacific countries have agreed to establish a regional working group to help address domestic violence issues. This agreement was a key result from a regional consultation made up of senior civil servants responsible for domestic violence legislation and representatives from national domestic violence taskforces and committees, who met in Fiji this week to discuss strategies for implementing domestic violence legislation.
The consultation was hosted by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) in partnership with UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office, and supported by the Government of Australia and the Government of Sweden.
For the last 20 years SPC RRRT has been hosting regional consultations on several topics linked to human rights and violence against women. Regional statistics show that more than 60% of women in the Pacific have been at one point in their lives been victim of violence. At the opening of the 2018 consultation Deputy Director General of SPC, Dr Audrey Aumua, said “domestic violence prevents women from engaging and participating fully in the life of their communities”, and highlighted SPC’s responsibility “to tackle this and recognize the importance of addressing family violence as a way to contributing and ensuring the overall development of a country.”
Participants took the opportunity over three days to share good practice and learn from each other, culminating in an agreement to establish a regional working group to meet on a biannual basis. The working group will comprise of an elected Chairperson from Fiji and a Deputy Chairperson from Samoa, and nominated government representatives from each Pacific Island country or state.Supported by SPC RRRT as secretariat, members of the working group will share strategies for the implementation of legislation, leading to better outcomes for survivors of domestic violence.
Honourable Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Fiji’s Minister of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation commended the establishment of a regional group, saying, “I hope that the regional momentum created through this working group can foster an environment where we in the Pacific can take even more concrete steps to provide better services to all survivors of domestic violence.”
Certainly a key message emerging from the consultation is that partnership and working collaboratively are key to addressing domestic violence in the Pacific. UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office Ending Violence Against Women Programme Advisor Abigail Erikson said, “UN Women is pleased to be supporting this convening that directly assists governments across the region to fulfil their commitments made in national legislation to address domestic violence and family violence.
“This ongoing work is a priority, and links with extensive work to improve access to quality services for survivors of gender-based violence, under the new Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls that we are coordinating in partnership with SPC RRRT and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, with support from the European Union and the Australian Government.”
The new working group will meet biannually, starting in 2019. The immediate next step is for the governments of Fiji and Samoa to confirm who will hold the positions of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.
Media contacts :
Danica Waiti, SPC RRRT, [email protected] or +679 735 9860
Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia- Five Pohnpei community organisations have received the news that their applications to the Pacific People Advancing Change (PPAC) Small Grants Facility Fund have been approved for funding. Staff from the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) met with each of the organisations last week (10-14 September 2018) to deliver the news and sign their grant agreements with the Pacific Community.
The five organisations that have received grants are Care Micronesia, Enimwahn Development Association, Micronesian Productions, Youth4Change and the Pohnpei Senior Citizens Association. Representatives from each of the organisations were present at a one-day workshop in Pohnpei on Friday 14 September where they collectively celebrated the good news and undertook further planning to kick-start their respective advocacy campaigns within the next three months.
Mr Stuard Penias, President of the Enimwahn Development Association said, “Through this grant our community will be informed about human rights, domestic violence and good governance to ensure that all men and women advance gender equality in order for us to have a productive community”.
Ms Sylvia Elias, Executive Director of Youth4Change, acknowledged that the grant will enable their organisation to “mobilise and inform young people about the impact of corruption on the country’s development, so that young people can advocate for anti-corruption”.
RRRT has funding from the Government of Sweden to implement PPAC, focused on building the capacity of civil societies to advocate for human rights advances, as well as increasing awareness and changing attitudes within communities around human rights and gender equality. Under the first phase of the project, RRRT facilitated workshops in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands to build the capacity of civil society organisations in human rights advocacy.
In the second phase, civil society organisations in these five countries were invited to apply for a small grant to implement human rights advocacy campaigns. Announcements about successful recipients from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu will be made over the coming months. Recipients of the grants will receive mentoring from RRRT over a twelve-month period.
RRRT has operated for over 20 years as the region’s pioneer in human rights and gender capacity building to Pacific Island countries (PICs), institutions and civil society. RRRT provides a comprehensive suite of policy and legislative advice, technical assistance and capacity building to support PICTs in responding effectively to priority areas of human rights, such as gender equality, ending violence against women and children, disability rights, climate change, and equitable, sustainable development.
Onorina Saukelo, RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582.
Port Vila, Vanuatu- Key government agencies and stakeholders in Vanuatu have begun the first steps towards the nation’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) at a meeting organized by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resources Team (RRRT).
The week long meeting, which was held in the Vanuatu’s capital of Port Vila, provided national members of the CEDAW and CRC Committees an opportunity to consult with RRRT, UN Women, UNICEF, and the Melanesian Spearhead Group on pressing issues about the implementation of these treaties.
During the consultation, experiences from other Pacific Island Countries were shared, discussed and actively debated. Elizabeth Emil, Vanuatu Chief Desk Officer within the Ministry of Justice and Community Services, expressed her satisfaction in the consultation process saying, “It provided a clear understanding about the process of implementing policies, legislations and programs to achieve human rights obligations. It is not a simple process, but with the knowledge we received today I am confident Vanuatu can meet its obligations.”
Coordination and close partnerships are seen as key to advancing this work. Secretary of the Vanuatu Law Commission, Lawson Samuel said, “this consultation has demonstrated to us the importance of coordination and cooperation within and between government and NGOs. The closer we work together on these treaties the more successful we all will be.”
At a global level, UN CEDAW and CRC Committees are made up of independent experts on women and children’s rights from around the world who monitor implementation of human rights conventions. Countries who have become party to a UN treaty (a State party) are obliged to regularly update the respective Committee on progress made by the countries in meeting their obligations. The Committee then makes recommendations to the State party in the form of concluding observations.
The UN CEDAW Committee issued concluding observations to Vanuatu in 2016 and the CRC Committee issued in 2017. As a result of this consultation, an implementation plan was drafted to address the observations made in relation to both CEDAW and CRC.
The Vanuatu Government, through the Ministry of Justice and Community Services will finalise the draft implementation plan and seek endorsement from the Council of Ministers. Following endorsement, various government agencies will carry out their respective actions and report back to the UN Committees in 2020 and 2021. RRRT will provide continuous support through its Country Focal Officer and the Senior Human Rights Advisors.
RRRT has operated for over 20 years as the region’s pioneer in human rights and gender capacity building to Pacific Island countries (PICs), institutions and civil society. RRRT provides a comprehensive suite of policy and legislative advice, technical assistance and capacity building to support PICs in responding effectively to priority areas of human rights, such as gender equality, ending violence against women and children, disability rights, climate change, and equitable, sustainable development.
Onorina Saukelo, RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582.
Majuro, Marshall Islands- Public prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office and other law enforcement officers in the Marshall Islands participated in a two day training (30 July to 1 August) aimed at strengthening their role in the implementation of the country’s 2011 Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act.
The Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act came into force in 2011 and provides protection orders to assist those that are affected by family violence and ensures their safety. It defines and criminalises domestic violence, namely any physical, sexual, psychological, or economic abuse against family members.
The workshop, led by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and supported by the Government of Australia and the Government of Sweden, was conducted to strengthen the capacity of prosecutors in undertaking their roles as set out under the legislation.
Family Health and Safety studies on violence against women conducted in various pacific countries have confirmed high rates of intimate partner violence occurring and also revealed that current legislation in the countries is not adequately responding to this violation of people’s human rights.
In the Pacific region over 60% of women in intimate partner relationships continue to face violence and in the case of the Marshal Islands, the National Study on Family Health Safety highlighted that 48% of the women that were interviewed had experienced physical violence in their lifetime.
“Since 2011 the Marshall Islands Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act has provided protection mechanisms for those that are experiencing domestic violence. RRRT’s core work has been supporting countries to develop domestic violence or family protection legislation and we are now working with the countries to focus on the implementation of these legislation,” says RRRT Senior Human Rights Adviser, Ms Neomai Maravuakula who facilitated the training.
In his opening remarks, the Marshal Islands Minister for Justice, Jack J. Adding said, “I’m very pleased to see this workshop begin, as it not only promises to sharpen the skills of our prosecutors but it will also help bring to focus all the other issues that may hinder the effective and efficient prosecution of domestic violence crimes.” The Minister further added that, “if we were to really understand domestic violence, we will know that it goes against our culture and our faith.”
During the training, participants: discussed the concepts of gender and human rights and how this is linked to domestic violence; explored the definition and different elements of domestic violence as set out in the Act; and unpacked key provisions of the Act, examining the protection mechanisms provided under the Act and the application process for protection orders.
Participants also took part in practical exercises to understand the interviewing process and the support for survivors of domestic violence as they provide information, particularly on how to obtain information with minimum harm towards the survivor as well as discussed the challenges that may be faced through this process and how this could be minimised.
This training is part of RRRT’s regional judicial strengthening programme which provides tailor-made training programmes to support judges, magistrates, lawyers and prosecutors in implementing family violence legislation. In 2017, RRRT worked with the Chief Justice to support the Marshall Islands District and Community Court Judges to get a better understanding of the DVPPA. In recognition of the need for continuous engagement with justice actors, RRRT provides on-going support after initial consultations to collect data and develop judicial tools, and offers follow up training, as needed.
Since 2008, 12 countries including the Marshall Islands and two of the states in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) have passed domestic violence legislation.
Onorina Saukelo, RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582
Tarawa, Kiribati - The Pacific Community (SPC) and the UK Government today launched the “Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project” to help improve the capacity of Pacific Commonwealth countries to deliver on their international human rights commitments. With a funding commitment from the UK totaling £1.8 million (US$2.36 million) allocated from the “18-20 Commonwealth Fund”, the project will support human rights activities in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu over the next two years.
One of the three components of the project is the creation of platforms for Members of Parliament and civil society leaders across the Pacific to champion and advance human rights. This component was also launched today at the Kiribati Members of Parliament Dialogue on Human Rights and Lawmaking, the first activity to be delivered under the project.
The dialogue was hosted by the government of Kiribati at the Kiribati House of Assembly. Mr Albert Seluka, representing SPC commended the dialogue, saying, “the opportunity for MPs to discuss the human rights commitments of Kiribati and work through some of the challenges means we are one step closer towards the progressive realisation of these rights in Kiribati”.
Implemented by the SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and national human rights institutions across the Commonwealth, the project will fulfil requests from Pacific Commonwealth countries for assistance on this important area.
“The UK Government is putting in to action the obligations it made towards meeting the needs and desires of Pacific Commonwealth countries”, said Mr Dave Jones, Deputy British High Commissioner to Fiji in his opening address.
The Republic of Kiribati Minister of Justice, Honourable Natan Teewe responded by saying that “the government of Kiribati welcomes support to build good governance and adherence to the rule of law”.
Partnership was certainly a key theme emerging out of today’s launch where prominent leaders including the President His Excellency Taneti Mama, Ministers and Members of Parliament gathered alongside representatives of the UK Government and the Pacific Community.
“This project will foster an environment where Members of Parliament, government and Civil Society leaders can work ever closely together to champion and advance human rights in the Pacific. We anticipate a richness of cross-Pacific and cross-Commonwealth learning and exchange taking place over the next two years’, said Mr Jones.
The Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project has three core components: to support emerging national human rights institutions through cross-Pacific and cross-Commonwealth learning and exchange; provide technical support to Pacific states to develop National Human Rights Action plans to meet their human rights and gender equality commitments; and create platforms for Members of Parliament and civil society leaders across the Pacific to champion and advance human rights.
RRRT has operated for over 20 years as the Pacific’s premier human rights programme. Through a team of regional advisors and Country Focal Officers based in SPC member states, RRRT provides a comprehensive suite of policy and legislative advice, technical assistance and capacity building to support Pacific states to respond effectively to priority human rights areas such as gender equality, ending violence against women and children, disability rights, climate change and equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.
Danica Waiti, Team Leader – Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Knowledge Management, [email protected] or +679 735 9860
Suva, Fiji-Pacific education officials and curriculum development officers from Kiribati, the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), and Tuvalu met in Fiji this week (7 to 10 August) to progress plans to integrate human rights and responsibilities into primary and secondary school curricula under the banner of “social citizenship education”.
The social citizenship education programme 2018-2021 is funded by the EUR 19.5million Pacific Partnership to End Violence against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership), supported by the European Union (EUR 12.7m) with targeted support from the Australian Government (EUR 6.2m) and UN Women (EUR 0.6m).
On behalf of the delegations from Kiribati, RMI and Tuvalu, Mr Neaki Letia, Director of Education for the Government of Tuvalu, said “as we navigate the various implementation challenges ahead we must stay strong in our belief that children and young people can bring about positive social change. This workshop provided an opportunity for countries to share with and learn from each other as we plan towards a future where children and young people are agents of change.”
Plans to action the integration of social citizenship education into the school curriculum arose following a regional consultation held in April 2017 where education officials from 10 Pacific countries met to map a way forward for their countries to strengthen social citizenship through their national education curriculum. This week’s follow up workshop was attended by senior education officials and representatives from three Pacific countries who will now return to their respective countries and drive the action plans they have developed.
In welcoming the participants to the workshop, Ms Ingrid Swinnen, representative of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific said, “Ministries of Education in the Pacific are critical counterparts and drivers of this process because they best understand what suits their country context and education systems to deliver social citizenship education”.
Support to the social citizenship education programme will be provided by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resources Team (RRRT), in collaboration with SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) and the Social Development Programme (SDP).
“At SPC RRRT, we believe that our children and young people are ready to have conversations on social inclusion, human rights, gender equality and ending violence, within the classroom setting. The social citizenship component of the Pacific Partnership programme will help them to do this in an informed way and SPC RRRT is excited to be part of this initiative”, said SPC RRRT Director, Miles Young.
The Pacific Partnership programme brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners, to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors of violence. The programme’s three outcome areas are jointly implemented through a partnership between SPC RRRT, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO).
The social citizenship education programme is Outcome One of the Pacific Partnership programme, and aims to contribute towards shaping children and youth’s notions and awareness of human rights and responsibilities, gender equality, social inclusion and ending violence against women and girls in their communities.
Danica Waiti, Team Leader – Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Knowledge Management, [email protected] or +679 735 9860
The Pacific region has some of the highest rates of violence against women recorded in the world – twice the global average with an estimated two in every three Pacific women impacted by gender-based violence. Along with high rates of violence – a violation of human rights – women and girls in the Pacific region experience constant and continual inequalities including low levels of participation in decision making, limited economic opportunities, restricted access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors.
To achieve this, the Pacific Partnership aims to transform the social norms that allow violence against women and girls to continue; to ensure survivors have access to quality response services; and to support national and regional institutions to meet their commitments to gender equality and prevention of violence against women and girls. Working through partners, it will promote equal rights and opportunities for all Pacific people, through innovative approaches to education, access to essential services, and policy development.
The EUR€18.2 million partnership is primarily funded by the European Union (€12.7m) that supports all three outcome areas of the programme, with the Australian Government providing targeted funding to the second outcome (EUR€4.9m or AUD$7.6m) supported by UN Women (EUR€0.6m or USD$0.75m). The programme’s three outcome areas are jointly implemented through a partnership between the Pacific Community (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO).
The Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project is a two-year project being implemented by RRRT from 2018-2020.
The goal of this project is to increase the capacity of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) to drive inclusive and equitable social change, through good governance, respect for human rights, and fairer opportunities for politically, socially and economically marginalized communities.
The Project has three outcomes: (1) more PICTs establish active, Paris-principle compliant National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs); (2) more PICTs develop NHRI Action plans to guide, and monitor implementation of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations; (3) strengthened capabilities of marginalized groups, young members of parliament (MPs), young business and civil society leaders to monitor and advocate for human rights and social inclusion.
The project will be implemented in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Pacific Island Countries and Territories had good reason to celebrate as 2017 came to a close, with the region’s leaders showing a clear commitment to the advancement of human rights. In just 12 months, with support from the Pacific Community’s Regional Rights Resource Division and its partners, the number of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), either established or under development in the Pacific, has more than doubled.Tuvalu, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, Cook Islands and the Republic of the Marshall Islands have joined Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Samoa in strengthening their institutional environment in this way to ensure that Human Rights remain a top priority for the Pacific.
The additional five countries progressing towards creating NHRIs are being supported by a three-way partnership between the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), the Asia Pacific Forum for National Human Rights Institutions (APF) and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Of the five countries, Tuvalu was able to progress the furthest, with legislation drafted and passed to institute an NHRI in 2017.
The four other countries (Nauru, FSM, Cook Islands and RMI) hosted NHRI scoping missions led by RRRT and supported by APF and, in the case of the Cook Islands, OHCHR and UNDP. RRRT Acting Director Nicol Cave sees 2017 as a landmark year. “This is has been an exciting year in the Pacific with Governments visibly strengthening their commitments to human rights. I am confident that this trend will continue and all of us in RRRT will continue to support Pacific governments in these endeavours.”
What is so important about NHRIs?
NHRIs are specialised bodies established by governments, but intended to provide an independent assessment of the nation’s duty to protect and promote the human rights of its people, including vulnerable groups.
NHRIs provide an essential role in the human rights ‘machinery’ of any country. While governments are responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights in their States, NHRIs support governments to this end by advising governments, monitoring human rights standards and practices, investigating violations, and promoting human rights education and training. NHRIs also play a critical role in bringing commitments made at the national and international levels, including UN treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to bear on people’s lives.
NHRIs have existed since the 1940s but did not have any internationally agreed standards until 1991. These international standards, known as the ‘Paris Principles’, include ensuring the independence, plurality and mandate of NHRIs.
Around the world, NHRIs have played important roles in exposing and identifying steps to address human rights abuses. For example, the NHRI in Samoa (Ombudsman’s office) has undertaken a major survey on the impact of human rights on fa’a Samoa, or Samoan way of life and culture, reported on the rights of people with disabilities with strong recommendations to government and the wider society, and is currently undertaking a major public inquiry into domestic violence.The New Zealand Human Rights Commission recently has exposed abuse and neglect associated with those living with mental illness in residential institutions, and launched an award-winning media campaign on racism.
Turning the tide in the Pacific
The work on creating national human rights institutions had been stagnant for many years in the Pacific region. Until recently, the conversation around human rights institutions focused on a regional mechanism, though this too was not a regional priority. Issues of resources, capacity and national priorities were some of the reasons why it was not feasible for Pacific Island governments to pursue NHRIs at the time.
This trend turned in 2016 in Tuvalu when, following a national consultation of Members of Parliament (MPs) held by RRRT, Cabinet endorsed a recommendation for a scoping mission on an NHRI. On the invitation of the Attorney General of Tuvalu, RRRT and APF held consultations in Funafuti in December 2016 on the feasibility of establishing an NHRI. Government representatives and key stakeholders, who recognised the importance of contextualising human rights within Tuvalu’s culture and island society, and assistance in mediating human rights disputes and conflicts, supported an NHRI for Tuvalu. Based on the consultations and considering resource challenges, the scoping team recommended for the establishment of an NHRI within the existing independent Office of the Ombudsman. The scoping team also advised that the appointment of human rights commissioners should take into consideration gender and the plurality of Tuvaluan society.
These recommendations were accepted by the Government and with technical support from RRRT and the APF, the Government created legislation to establish the NHRI. The Tuvalu Parliament passed this legislation in October 2017, making Tuvalu one of only a few Small Island Developing States to establish an NHRI.
"We were delighted to see the legislation passed with such a powerful endorsement from the Parliament," said Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat. "It meant that Tuvalu's new NHRI would have strong foundation to respond to the concerns of the community and provide redress for people who experience discrimination or human rights violations."
Political leadership was key to the speed of these actions. His Excellency Sir Iakoba Italeli, the Governor General of Tuvalu, during his engagement with the NHRI scoping mission, stated that even though there may be a lack of resources and capacity, “it must not be the reason to stop Tuvalu from progressing on the initiative of establishing an NHRI.”
Trust and technical expertise from both RRRT and APF were also essential factors. RRRT’s grounded understanding of the Pacific and relationships and respect in Tuvalu helped build a political appetite for the MPs consultation and scoping mission.APF, as the regional forum of NHRIs, carried the technical expertise to consider the specific form and function of NHRI most appropriate to the country.
Expansion through the peer-to-peer network
As a regional human rights programme with national staff based in nine countries and networks spreading across the region, RRRT supported other countries to build on the momentum generated by Tuvalu. Following their attendance at RRRT’s regional workshops and through the technical support offered by RRRT’s Country Focal Officers for the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), these Northern Pacific States governments issued requests to RRRT for a scoping study on the feasibility of establishing an NHRI. In Nauru, following a RRRT consultation with MPs, a request for scoping study was issued to RRRT by the Ministry for Home Affairs, and in Cook Islands, the request came from OHCHR. RRRT worked in close partnership with APF on the missions in RMI, FSM and Nauru; and APF, OHCHR and UNDP on the scoping mission to the Cook Islands, with funding from the Australian Government and the European Union. Reports with specific recommendations are currently sitting with the governments of each of these countries.
Cook Islands’ Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Paul Allsworth, expressed his gratitude to the team for their service and said that the mission would assist the Cook Islands with “streamlining our core services under international standards”. He noted that the Ministry was responsible for coordinating the country’s reports to the United Nations treaty bodies for those treaties ratified by the Cook Islands.
RMI’s Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Wallace Peter, expressed his appreciation towards the scoping team for “providing such a vital report of their scoping mission to RMI”.
An increase in Pacific governments’ commitment to international human rights standards has been an important part of regional progress on NHRIs. The governments of FSM, RMI, Nauru and Tuvalu acknowledged that the feasibility study and national discussion on an NHRI stems from their own international commitments, including the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and Treaty reporting processes.
Rosslyn Noonan, a former Chief Commissioner for Human Rights in the New Zealand Human Rights Commission and member of the scoping team, noted that it had been tremendously encouraging to witness how concerned the governments involved in the scoping studies have been about strengthening the human rights of their people.
RRRT and partners are committed to supporting the establishment of an NHRI in each of the countries that had scoping studies. The support available includes further consultations, for example in outer islands, assisting with the drafting of enabling legislation, linking in other agencies such as UNDP to help source additional resources; and providing technical assistance and capacity building once the NHRI is established. RRRT and APF will continue to support the governments through their status accreditation with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) in Geneva, Switzerland. NHRIs that meet the international minimum standards as set by the Paris Principles are given a global status, with A being the highest and a C status meaning a non-compliant institution. In 2016, 75 NHRIs received an A rating status, including Australia, New Zealand and Samoa’s NHRI.
Effective, independent NHRIs in countries across the Pacific will help governments to implement better their human rights commitments at a time when the adverse impact of climate change risk eroding human rights gains. At the end of the day, these institutions are an essential component of building an enabling environment where Pacific Island citizens receive protection and support to enjoy their rights and reach their potential.