Pacific Parliamentarians from 11 Pacific Island countries were reminded today that embracing the principles of human rights such as transparency, accountability, non-discrimination and participation into parliamentary systems will promote good governance and result in improved development outcomes for the region.
The 23 members of Parliament are in Nadi this week attending the first day of a regional human rights consultation to share their experiences and exchange information on current and emerging human rights issues in the region.
Organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Regional Rights Resource Team, the consultation with the theme of ‘Human Rights for Good Governance’ aims to explore and promote the integration of human rights into Parliamentary systems to promote good governance.
Keynote speaker at the opening ceremony, Honourable Dr Pita Sharples, Māori academic and former Politician who was co-leader of the Māori Party and Minister of Māori Affairs in New Zealand promoted the important linkages between cultural values, human rights and development.
“Human rights will only be achieved when we value our culture and embrace its many values that are linked to the principles of human rights. We need to protect our culture and work with those values for the benefit of our people,” Dr Sharples said.
A Fiji Member of Parliament, Honourable Salote Radrodro said she welcomes the opportunity to be part of the consultation on human rights processes as human rights hold the key to true democracy.
Honourable Member of Parliament for Kiribati, Ieremia Tabai sees the consultation as a space and time to reflect on what “we have done for the people we represent and how we can help them live a better life where their rights are realised.”
Significant and emerging human rights issues that will be discussed during the consultation include sexual and gender based violence, human rights and climate change, disability inclusiveness and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The consultation will also explain the processes for ratifying international human rights conventions in Pacific Island countries and the participation of countries in the UN Universal Periodic Review and other international human rights mechanisms.
RRRT facilitates periodic consultations for members of parliament with the purpose of advancing human rights compliant legislative change.
SPC through its Human Rights Programme (RRRT) works to build a culture of human rights and assists nation states to commit to, and observe, international human rights standards. SPC RRRT is grateful to the Australian Government for the funding of this event through Australian Aid.