Monday 7 December 2009, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Suva Regional Office, Fiji
'CEDAW enables the full and complete development of a country through maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields,' said the President of Nauru, the Hon. Marcus Stephen, at the opening of a two-day information and dialogue session for Nauru parliamentarians on CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women).
Nauru is one of only three Pacific Island countries that have not ratified CEDAW, but by the end of the dialogue the MPs had re-affirmed the government's commitment to ratifying the convention within a set timeframe.
Meeting in Nauru on November 30 and December 1, the parliamentarians, assisted by staff from the Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (RRRT), assessed the advantages and challenges for Nauru of ratifying CEDAW. The government has already identified ratification as an element of the Women and Development priority area in the National Strategic Development Plan. During the dialogue, MPs considered in detail how the CEDAW process could assist in indentifying and addressing current gaps in national laws and policy relating to violence against women, women's reproductive health rights and political participation by women.
They also recognised that ratifying CEDAW will pose some challenges for the small island nation, particularly given the lack of resources and technical capacity to meet the associated implementation and reporting requirements. For example, the Minister for Justice, Health and Sports, Hon. Mathew Batsiua MP, said the cost of sending a delegation to Geneva to report on Nauru's progress in implementing CEDAW would be as much as the cost of running Nauru's Able-Disable Centre. He recommended that a special sitting of the CEDAW committee be held in the Pacific to enable most Pacific Islands to report in a timely manner.
MPs acknowledged RRRT's technical support and looked forward to continuous partnership with key regional organisations and donor agencies in advancing gender equality through ratification of CEDAW in Nauru.
Background: The Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), which is a programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, works with partners in eight focus countries (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) to offer training and expert advice on the development of human rights advocacy, lobbying, mobilisation strategies and the drafting of national human rights legislation. The team provides human rights training, technical support, and policy and advocacy services tailored specifically for the Pacific region. Its mission is 'to seek a Pacific region that is respected for the quality of its governance, the sustainable management of its resources, the full observance of democratic values and for its defence and promotion of human rights'.