Pacific Human Rights Delegation Study Tour to UK and Geneva

19 June 2019

Staff from Pacific National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) are embarking on an opportunity to build their capacity thanks to a Study Tour and Exchange to the UK and the Human Rights Council in Geneva from 17 – 26 June 2019.

The two–week excursion has been organised under the UK-funded Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project (PCEP) implemented by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), which will see participation from three fully established NHRIs in the Pacific – Fiji, Samoa and Tuvalu. Other countries from the region taking part in this tour are the Cook Islands, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia.

According to Mr Miles Young, Director of RRRT, NHRIs play a crucial role in monitoring, reporting and investigating human rights abuses, advocating for individuals and groups in need of protection, and holding governments accountable to their human rights obligations.

He highlighted that for Pacific Island Countries to make progress in human rights, it is essential to build the capacity of their NHRIs so that they are able to function to their full potential.

Mr Young acknowledged support from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and for investing in projects such as PCEP in order to drive change and deliver positive human rights outcomes for all Pacific people.

It is commendable that the UK realises the important role played by NHRIs in educating communities, the public and the State on human rights and has invested in this initiative to enable Pacific countries to build the capacity of their NHRIs, Mr Young said.

PCEP was launched by the UK as Chair in the Office of the Commonwealth to support the implementation of human rights commitments made by leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2018.

Her Excellency, Melanie Hopkins, British High Commissioner to Fiji and the Head of the South Pacific Network highlighted that PCEP provides critical technical assistance to strengthen human rights institutions and mechanisms across Pacific Commonwealth countries, with a focus on equality and adherence to international human rights obligations.

I am extremely delighted that the UK is committed to the betterment of human rights standards in Pacific Commonwealth countries and am pleased to see PCEP undertake activities such as this study tour which will leave lasting impact, especially for Pacific NHRIs, for years to come, she added.

Mr Ashley Bowe, PCEP Project Manager explained that the Study Tour and Exchange consists of three phases with the first one starting from 17 – 19 June in partnership with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in Belfast.

Participants will get the opportunity to discuss areas of work with their Irish counterparts such as how they engage with sensitive issues and conduct legislative review to ensure compliance with human rights standards. Discussions will also focus on human rights monitoring and how NHRIs can exercise investigatory powers through national inquiries.

The second phase of the tour will be from 20 – 21 June in partnership with the Equality and Human Rights Commission in London, where Pacific participants will get a better understanding of how NHRIs can work effectively with parliamentarians. They will also get an opportunity to learn from their London counterparts on how to communicate human rights and monitor treaties.

Finally, the three Pacific NHRI delegations will travel to Geneva and participate in the 41st Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC41), 24 -26 June, where the Samoan Ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma, will deliver a statement on the rights of women and girls on behalf of the NHRI Samoa.

Mr Bowe highlighted that on 25 June, the NHRI delegation from Samoa, Fiji, and Tuvalu will take part in a Pacific Side-Event at the HRC41 on the topic: Overcoming Global Implementation Challenges.

The side event at HRC41 will be an opportunity to discuss challenges and success stories of establishing NHRIs within small island states where resource and geographical constraints can make meeting the Paris Principles a challenge, Mr Bowe added.

He said the side-event would also discuss how contextualised approaches to human rights could address perception of rights as foreign and foster greater understanding, acceptance and ownership.

A contextualised approach is the use of cultural values, traditional songs and stories and faiths, to communicate human rights standards and principles, Mr Bowe stated.

The Governments of Australia, Sweden and the UK support the events in Geneva.

For more information on the UK/Geneva Study Tour and Exchange, please contact:

Ms Kalpana Prasad-Nizarat – PCEP Communications and Visibility Officer on:

Source: The Pacfic Commonwealth Equality Project

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