Suva, Fiji- The Pacific Community (SPC) and the UK Government today signed a grant agreementtotalling £1.8 million (approximately US$2.36 million) to help improve the capacity of nine Pacific Commonwealth countries deliver on their human rights.
The money released from the “18-20 Commonwealth Fund” is earmarked for projects in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu and will be spread over the two years the UK is Chair in the Office of the Commonwealth that started on 19 April.
The “Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project” will be 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 partnership 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.
SPC’s Deputy Director-General, Dr Audrey Aumua, highlighted the significance and potential of the agreement saying, “The political will to advance gender equality and human rights exists across our region. With the support of partners like the UK Government, I feel that we are nearing a turning point in achieving our common goal of a Pacific future based on a foundation of respect and equality for all.”
Pacific countries, including those affiliated to the Commonwealth, are making steady progress in developing a legal and social environment where Pacific people, in all their diversity, are able to enjoy their human rights, live free, peaceful and prosperous lives, and be included in all aspects of political, economic and social life.
The British High Commissioner to Fiji and Head of the South Pacific Network, Melanie Hopkins said:
“Women, young people, persons with disabilities, and other minority groups will all benefit and this new funding offers valuable support to the recipient Pacific Commonwealth countries as they strive to strengthen their national human rights institutions.
“This is a strong outcome of the Commonwealth Leaders aspirations from CHOGM 2018 and I am delighted the UK Government is partnering with SPC for this important work for our Pacific countries.”
The Pacific Community has a long-standing commitment to Human Rights and has applied an integrated, multi-sectoral approach that places Pacific peoples and their rights at the centre of the organizations work.
Miles Young, Director of RRRT noted the importance of the UK Government’s investment in human rights. “Our work is focused on supporting regional action, and harnessing local energy to drive change and deliver positive human rights outcomes for all Pacific people. This would not be possible without international actors like the UK Government coming to the table in support of ambitious initiatives like Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project. We are confident that this project will have an impact on the region which will be felt for years to come.”
The project funding will run from July 2018 to March 2020.
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.
Onorina Saukelo, RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582.