Pacific Island States - Regional Workshop on Establishing NHRIs
Representatives from 13 Pacific countries will participate in a regional workshop to discuss issues around the establishment of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in their island states.
The workshop, co-organised by the APF, the OHCHR and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, will be held in Samoa from 27 – 29 April 2009.
It aims to contribute to the dialogue on human rights in the Pacific by engaging government representatives, parliamentarians, public officials and members of civil society on issues relating to the establishment of NHRIs.
Although a number of human rights mechanisms do exist in the Pacific – such as safeguards in national constitutions, good governance structures and active civil society groups – concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of human rights protection in the region.
Over the last few years, there has been increasing dialogue about forms of human rights mechanisms for the Pacific and the development of the Pacific Plan of Action for Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Integration, endorsed by Pacific leaders in 2005, has given significant momentum to the issue.
Currently one Pacific Island state – Fiji – has established a NHRI. However, a number of others, including Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Palau, have undertaken preliminary steps towards establishing NHRIs.
The Regional Workshop will bring together representatives from the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, along with participants from the Commonwealth Secretariat and Pacific-based UN agencies.
It aims to provide participants with the relevant knowledge and methodological tools developed by the United Nations for establishing NHRIs, with a particular focus on the internationally agreed standards set out in the Paris Principles.
It will also provide a forum to share lessons learned from NHRIs around the region, especially the experiences of NHRIs on small island states such as the Maldives and Timor Leste.
Other topics that will be discussed during the three day workshop include:
- applying the Paris Principles in the Pacific context;
- the benefits of having an independent and operational NHRI;
- the process of establishing a NHRI; and
- the legal provisions required for establishing NHRIs in accordance the Paris Principles, including foundation, appointment process, membership and methods of operation.
In the short term, the workshop aims to raise awareness among Pacific stakeholders on the important role and functions of NHRIs and to identify opportunities to provide coordinated support to countries wanting to take steps towards establishing a NHRI.
In the longer term, it is hoped that a strategy can be developed for each Pacific Island country to establish a NHRI and that there will be a growing number of NHRIs established in the Pacific in compliance with the Paris Principles.
Assessing the Effectiveness of National Human Rights Institutions
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Handbook for National
Human Rights Institutions
National Human Rights Institutions Pathways for Pacific States
OHCHR annual report on National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights
Pacific plan good governance work program 2008-2010