Pacific NHRIs discuss opportunities for joint advocacy
Graphic: Two children walk on a beach in Kiribati
Five NHRIs in the Pacific have met to discuss areas of potential collaboration, with action on human rights and climate change a top priority.
Representatives from five national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the Pacific have met to discuss areas of potential collaboration, with action on human rights and climate change a top priority.
The NHRIs of Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa and Tuvalu gathered in Sydney on 10 October 2019 to discuss their current work and future priorities.
The APF Pacific NHRI Dialogue was hosted by APF Chairperson and President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher.
Graphic: Discussions at the Pacific NHRI Roundtable
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet provided welcoming remarks, highlighting the vital role that independent NHRIs play to help build strong and inclusive communities and respond to pressing human rights issues.
Key among the issues raised was the impact of climate change on the lives of individuals, communities and cultures across the Pacific.
Participants highlighted the profound impact that rising sea levels and extreme weather events are having on fundamental human rights, including the rights to life, self-determination, development, food, health, housing, water and sanitation.
They also considered the possibility of developing joint policy papers and advocacy on issues related to adaptability and sustainability that could help shape discussion at the region's intergovernmental body, the Pacific Islands Forum.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has described climate change as one of the greatest threats facing humanity, with implications for all our human rights.
"Storms are rising and tides could submerge entire island nations and coastal cities. Fires rage through our forests, and the ice is melting. We are burning up our future – literally," Ms Bachelet told the Human Rights Council.
Here is what she is calling on national human rights institutions to do in response.
The APF Pacific NHRI Dialogue concluded with a call from participants to hold the gathering on a regular basis.
The following day – on 11 October – all five NHRIs attended the Oceania regional launch of a UN study on children deprived of their liberty.
Professor Manfred Nowak, the UN Independent Expert who led the global study, said that each year a minimum of 1.5 million children around the world are deprived of their liberty across different settings, with damaging impacts on their health and well-being.
"The principle is that children should never be behind bars. Every child behind bars is one too many, and there are millions behind bars," Professor Nowak said.
As part of the launch, participants worked together to discuss and strategise about the implementation of the study's recommendations.
Date: 18 October 2019
- Two children walk on a beach in Kiribati - UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1k7VVIc
- Discussions at the Pacific NHRI Roundtable - APF