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