An article entitled “The case against human rights” by Professor Eric Posner[1] appears to argue that the failure of implementation of human rights treaties should be a justification for foreign funders to rethink their collective strategy. 

These funders should leave governance of developing countries unhindered by their obligations to protect rights enshrined under the human rights treaties. 

Members of parliament (MPs) from 11 countries across the Pacific region have affirmed their commitment to good governance and human rights with the release of a formal declaration.

The MPs echoed the Pacific leaders’ vision in the new Framework for Pacific Regionalism (2014), calling for a Pacific region ‘known for its quality of governance and respect for human rights’ in a statement called the 2015 Denarau Declaration on Human Rights and Good Governance.

The first of its kind for the Pacific, the declaration also states the MPs’ commitment to Pacific culture and traditions, noting that human rights and good governance can be achieved when politicians embrace culture, and engage its evolution and its many values that are linked to principles, treaties and conventions of human rights.

The declaration was the main outcome of the Pacific Members of Parliament Consultation on Human Rights for Good Governance, organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) late last month in Nadi, Fiji.

“Human rights and good governance are mutually reinforcing, and this, being the first ever Pacific human rights declaration by Members of Parliament, demonstrates strong political will and commitment by our Pacific leaders,” the Deputy Director of SPC’s Human Rights Programme (RRRT), Mark Atterton, said.

“The 2015 Denarau Declaration is a bold and visionary statement that speaks to the dignity and lives of Pacific islanders,” Mr Atterton said.

In the declaration, MPs acknowledged their role and responsibilities to champion and guide the national application of United Nations human rights treaties, and to submit treaty reports in compliance with their state reporting obligations.

The MPs noted the progressive steps taken by Pacific governments in the ratification of core human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

In respect of women’s rights, the MPs attending the consultation urged parliamentarians and governments to act boldly to ensure that women’s human rights are realised through laws, policies, and social and community norms and values that reject all forms of discrimination.

The MPs also agreed that climate change and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are a real and immediate threat to human, cultural and health rights, and are central to the future of Pacific communities. They declared their commitment to working collaboratively across sectors of government and society, and to be effective at the local, national and international levels.

The consultation concluded with the MPs requesting SPC RRRT to build upon the success of the regional consultation to organise further MP consultations at the national level to progress human rights, good governance and sustainable development.

SPC RRRT is funded by the Australian Government. Visit our website to download a copy of the declaration.

Media contact

For further information, please contact Jilda Shem, SPC RRRT’s Communication Officer on phone +679 330 5994 or email [email protected]. Photo source: Pacific Leadership Program (PLP).

The Big Nine publication – an important reference for judges, magistrates, legal practitioners and law students across the Pacific, is now online after its launch last night at a Pacific parliamentarians dinner in Nadi, Fiji.

'It is a privilege to launch this inspiring publication. It outlines the nine conventions we have been talking about during this consultation and will be a great tool for us to use in our work,' Māori academic and politician, Dr Pita Sharples, said at the launch.

The publication is a one-stop-shop for international human conventions and other related documents. It will also be useful for human rights advocates, civil society representatives and policy makers who seek to draw on international human rights law as a tool for initiating change in governance, policy and legislation, as well as in traditional and cultural practices in their own countries.

The Big Nine is the third volume of this series after The Big Eight and The Big Seven, which were also published by RRRT. Since the publication of The Big Eight, the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance has come into force and has been added to the eight conventions published in The Big Eight.

Twenty-three members of parliament are in Nadi this week attending a regional human rights consultation organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT). They are sharing their experiences and exchanging information on current and emerging human rights issues in the region.

SPC, through the Regional Rights Resource Team, works to build a culture of human rights and assists nation states to commit to, and observe, international human rights standards. SPC RRRT is funded by the Australian Government.

Media contact

Visit our website to download the e-copy of The Big Nine or contact Jilda Shem, SPC RRRT Communications Officer on +679 330 5994 or email [email protected] .

Photo caption: University of the South Pacific (USP) students (Laucala campus, Fiji) browsing through the newly launched publication.

Human Rights Conventions and related Human Rights Documents

 

Pacific Parliamentarians from 11 Pacific Island countries were reminded today that embracing the principles of human rights such as transparency, accountability, non-discrimination and participation into parliamentary systems will promote good governance and result in improved development outcomes for the region.

The 23 members of Parliament are in Nadi today attending the first day of a regional human rights consultation to share their experiences and exchange information on current and emerging human rights issues in the region.

Organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Regional Rights Resource Team, the consultation with the theme of ‘Human Rights for Good Governance’ aims to explore and promote the integration of human rights into Parliamentary systems to promote good governance.

Keynote speaker at the opening ceremony, Honourable Dr Pita Sharples, Māori academic and former Politician who was co-leader of the Māori Party and Minister of Māori Affairs in New Zealand promoted the important linkages between cultural values, human rights and development.

“Human rights will only be achieved when we value our culture and embrace its many values that are linked to the principles of human rights. We need to protect our culture and work with those values for the benefit of our people,” Dr Sharples said.

A Fiji Member of Parliament, Honourable Salote Radrodro said she welcomes the opportunity to be part of the consultation on human rights processes as human rights hold the key to true democracy.

Honourable Member of Parliament for Kiribati, Ieremia Tabai sees the consultation as a space and time to reflect on what “we have done for the people we represent and how we can help them live a better life where their rights are realised.”

Significant and emerging human rights issues that will be discussed during the consultation include sexual and gender based violence, human rights and climate change, disability inclusiveness and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The consultation will also explain the processes for ratifying international human rights conventions in Pacific Island countries and the participation of countries in the UN Universal Periodic Review and other international human rights mechanisms.

RRRT facilitates periodic consultations for members of parliament with the purpose of advancing human rights compliant legislative change.

SPC through its Human Rights Programme (RRRT) works to build a culture of human rights and assists nation states to commit to, and observe, international human rights standards. SPC RRRT is grateful to the Australian Government for the funding of this event through Australian Aid.

Media contact

For more information, please visit our website or contact Jilda Shem, SPC RRRT Communications Officer on +679 330 5994 or email [email protected] Photo caption: Fiji’s MP, Honourable Brij Lal and Niue’s MP, Honorable Fisa Pihigia at the consultation in Nadi today.

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Pacific

 

Suva – A high-level delegation from Kiribati has taken part in a mock human rights reporting session in Suva, Fiji, to prepare for the country’s second Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations in Geneva.

Kiribati will be reviewed on 19 January 2015 by the Human Rights Council to assess the Pacific nation’s performance in protecting and promoting human rights, including progress made in implementing recommendations from its first review in 2010.

The Kiribati delegation, led by the Minister for Women, Youth and Social Affairs, the Hon Tangariki Reete, and the Attorney General, the Hon Titabu Tabane, attended the mock session yesterday which was staged by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT) in partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The Universal Periodic Review is a key mechanism which allows all UN Member States to declare action taken to improve human rights in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.

“Through the mock session, we’ve realised that we need more information, especially statistics and other facts to support our presentation in Geneva,” Minister Reete said.

 “We are grateful to SPC and OHCHR for supporting us in this process, as well as other development partners such as UNICEF, UN Women and the UN Population Fund. We were guided on how to better articulate our responses during the interactive dialogue,” the Minister said.

SPC RRRT Senior Trainer, Romulo Nayacalevu, said the review is important because it exposes countries to best practice and enables them to seek technical assistance from organisations such as SPC to meet their commitments and obligations under international human rights treaties.

“Positive developments and challenges are discussed among countries while dialogue with civil society and the international community is enhanced, often resulting in prioritising action to address the crucial human rights issues on the ground,” Mr Nayacalevu said.

SPC RRRT supports all 22 Pacific countries and territories to build a culture of human rights, and assists nation states to commit to, and observe, international human rights standards. This work is funded by the Australian Government and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

For more information, please contact Jilda Shem, SPC RRRT Communications Officer, on +679 330 5994 or email [email protected]

Suva –Tuvalu’s Parliament unanimously passed the country’s Family Protection and Domestic Violence Bill last Thursday, 18 December after its second and final reading in the House.

The Act provides for greater protection from violence within domestic relationship to ensure the safety and protection of all people, including children, who experience or witness domestic violence. The Act recognises that domestic violence, in all its forms, is unacceptable behaviour and a crime.

Violence against women and within the family is a human rights violation, depriving women and children of their right to a safe and secure family life.

SPC RRRT has been providing support to the Government of Tuvalu through the drafting of the Bill in 2011 as well as providing a set of drafting instructions on violence against women legislation that is compliant with global human rights standards and supporting community and national consultations on the Bill in 2013 and in 2014.

The Tuvalu 2007 Demographic and Health survey reported that four in ten women have been subjected to some type of physical violence, with their current husbands or partners being the main perpetrators. Women whose husbands drink alcohol excessively are far more likely to experience physical, emotional, or sexual violence than those whose partner does not drink. Around half of all reported acts of physical violence were reported by women aged 25-29.

Inadequate laws and policies, fail to protect women and their families, and impact adversely on the development of a country. The passing of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act is a milestone for Tuvalu in that it is one of a variety of national strategies to eliminate all forms of violence against women, which is a key policy outcome in the Tuvalu’s National Gender Policy of 2014. 

Since 2013, SPC RRRT has supported the legislatures of Tuvalu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Tonga have all passed domestic violence legislation to protect their citizens from violence against women and girls.

Violence against women has a broad and lasting impact on the well-being of women and girls, families and communities, including the emotional, physical and psychological well-being of the survivors. Domestic violence also impacts national development by creating a burden on national social systems and services such as health care, police, legal aid, crisis centres and other response services.

SPC RRRT works to build a culture of human rights and assists nation states to commit to, and observe, international human rights standards. SPC RRRT is a programme under the Social Development Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and is funded by the Australian Government.

For more information, please contact Jilda Shem, SPC RRRT Communications Officer on +679 330 5994 or email [email protected] Photo caption: Tuvalu women in a community setting, source: http://klima-tuvalu.no/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/IMG_4862.jpg



SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team receives core funding from the Australian Government and additional project support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Pacific Leadership Programme (PLP), European Union (EU) and the German Development Bank (KfW).