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.
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).