The SmalI Island States Officers representing Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands (front row, right to left) in Suva last week discussing their human rights responsibilities
Monday 3 March 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) – Suva, Fiji.
A human rights training workshop for Small Island States Officers (SIS)/Human Rights Officers (HROs) of Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, and Marshall Islands last week highlighted the added value of treaty reporting by the governments of the region.
The role of SIS/HRO includes representing the country in the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) Small Island States group and acting as human rights focal point under a funding agreement with the European Union.
‘Many Pacific Island countries find the human rights reporting obligations overwhelming, but through the reporting processes such as the Universal Periodic Review and treaty reporting, human rights issues are brought to the attention of governments. In addition, positive developments and challenges are discussed and dialogue with civil society, the international community and the wider public is enhanced, resulting in prioritisation of action to address the crucial human rights issues on the ground,’ said Romulo Nayacalevu, Secretariat of the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT) Senior Trainer, discussing the Universal Periodic Review process.
Mr Nayacalevu added that human rights reporting also provides the opportunity to share best practice among states and support cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights, which makes it a great tool for development.
The weeklong workshop jointly facilitated by SPC RRRT, PIFS and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and partners UN Women and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) introduces the HROs to human rights concepts, human rights systems at the national, regional and international level and their role in building national human rights coordination systems to support national human rights reporting. Two key outputs of the training were the development of common core documents to assist in harmonising reporting obligations and developing terms of references to assist Pacific governments in the creation of National Human Rights Coordination Committees to coordinate treaty reporting at the national level. The HRO’s were also trained on how to assist their governments on the implementation of human rights obligations arising from the country’s ratified human rights treaties.
Holly Yamada, SIS and HRO for Palau, was grateful for the opportunity to attend her first ever human rights training workshop:
‘Given my added-on responsibilities in human rights, the training this week has been useful in enhancing my knowledge in this area and allowing me to view the world through a human rights lens. I look forward to going back to my country and supporting the government in its UPR report due next year and the CRPD and CRC reports that are long overdue,’ Ms Yamada said, referring to the country’s obligations to report under Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
David Teaabo, SIS and HRO for Kiribati, is empowered to support the strengthening of existing national human rights committees in Kiribati to ensure availability of key information from relevant government ministries and civil society for national reporting purposes:
‘Availability of accurate information through human rights reports is important to guide the design and effective implementation of interventions such as projects and programmes to address the priority needs of the countries,’ Mr Teaabo said.
Last week’s training was made possible through funding support provided under the European Union–PIFS Human Rights Project 2012–2015. On 20 February 2012 the European Union and PIFS signed a contribution agreement with a value of 1 million Euros to support Pacific Island countries in their ratification and implementation of international human rights treaties and the Rome Statute. SPC RRRT is an implementing partner of this project.
The PIFS Small Island States group includes Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.
For more information, please contact Jilda Shem, SPC RRRT Communications Officer on +679 330 5994 or email [email protected].