The Pacific Community is working with the Government of Tuvalu this week to formulate the country’s first national action plan for human rights which brings together Tuvalu’s existing commitments under the Universal Periodic Review, ratified Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and provides a timeframe for action across these human rights issues.
The consultation which was opened by Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, the Hon Enele Sopoaga, brought together government ministers, permanent secretaries, members of the judiciary, senior government officials and community representatives to discuss key human rights issues in Tuvalu and see how this can be captured in this proposed national action plan for human rights.
In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister thanked the Pacific Community (SPC) for its continued partnership and support to the government especially on human rights including the support provided for the universal periodic review process (UPR), the treaty body processes.
Earlier this week, the Pacific Community concluded a week-long scoping mission with the Asia Pacific Forum (APF) on National Human Rights Institution on the feasibility of Tuvalu establishing a national human rights institution.
The consultation heard from different stakeholders including the Governor General, the cabinet, members of the judiciary, ombudsman, church representatives, Falekaupule (traditional assembly of elders) and community representatives on their views for the establishment of this important institution.
The scoping team comprising of APF’s Rosslyn Noonan and SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) Senior Human Rights Adviser, Romulo Nayacalevu, were appreciative of the government’s leadership in calling for the scoping study and the commitment made to progress this initiative which is one of the key recommendations received by Tuvalu in its UPR recommendations.
The scoping team is preparing a report on their scoping mission which will then be presented to cabinet.
“Tuvalu’s commitment and leadership on human rights is clearly visible in these bold steps taken by government to consider both the feasibility of the establishment of a human rights institution as well as to consult on the formulation of this first national action plan on human rights. If endorsed by cabinet, this will also be the first for any Pacific country,” Mr Nayacalevu said.
“These initiatives by the government reflect Tuvalu’s ongoing commitment to improve the human rights situation as accepted through its treaty and UPR obligations but also as reflected in the government’s latest strategic development plan, the Te Kaketenga III,” Mr Nayacalevu added.
In partnership with UN Women and UNICEF’s Pacific office, SPC and Tuvalu’s senior government representatives also discussed the country’s obligations under CEDAW, CRC and CRPD and identified the crucial issues that need to be reflected in the proposed national action plan.
Tuvalu is also the first Smaller Island State to conduct such a study into the possibility of establishing a national human rights institution. Apart from Australia and New Zealand, only Samoa and Fiji currently have a national human rights institution in the Pacific.
SPC supports all 22 Pacific Island member countries and territories in building a culture of human rights, and assists nation states to commit to, and observe, international human rights standards. This work is funded by the European Union and the Government of Australia.
Mark Atterton, SPC Regional Rights Resource Team Director, [email protected] or +679 330 5994