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STATEMENT BY DR. AUMUA
DELIVERED AT OPENING CEREMONY OF THE
84th EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
2 MARCH 2020
- The Honourable Prime Minister of Samoa – Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi;
- Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child – Luis Pedernera Reyna;
- Honourable Ministers and members of the Judiciary;
- Excellencies and State Parties delegates;
- Children of Samoa and the Pacific;
- Friends and colleagues.
Talofa lava, bula vinaka,
The Pacific Community (SPC) is honoured and privileged to have partnered with the United Nations to bring the 84th Extraordinary Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child here to Apia, Samoa.
In the Pacific, children are central to our communities … we have a saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” which speaks to the collective responsibility we feel for our children.
This week we are gathered here in Samoa to celebrate the children of the Pacific. To highlight and listen to their issues, their concerns, and especially to their hopes for the future. It’s about working together to create an environment that ensures our children realise their full potential in rapidly changing world.
The meaningful participation of children is essential to the fulfilment of their rights, aspirations and full human potential. When children know their rights, they have a deeper understanding of their role in society, and how they can contribute to improving their communities.
I understand over 100 children are scheduled to engage with the Committee members this week. The voices of these Pacific children will be able to guide and inform the 84th Session, providing us with new insights, and ensuring we remain focused on the issues that matter to them.
All Pacific countries are States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child – this is testament to our leaders’ commitment and a reflection of our common conviction that children are indeed a collective responsibility of our region.
As Committee members, you will see that while we in the Pacific share many commonalities – and climate change is an issue of common concern for us and our children – the region comprises a diverse range of countries with their own unique challenges, including with respect to children. It is hoped that your time in Samoa will give you a much better appreciation of Pacific contexts and issues and help to better inform your work moving forward.
This week is also about the Pacific learning from the Committee – how does your work as a Committee help to promote the rights of children?
Your presence here is an opportunity to raise the profile of children’s rights and human rights in the region. As you know, Acting Chief Justice Nelson is currently the only Pacific Islander to sit on any UN human rights treaty body – hopefully, your presence here will inspire other Pacific Islanders to follow a similar path.
SPC is owned by the governments and peoples of the Pacific. As such, we put Pacific peoples at the very centre of our work. It is only by doing this that we will realise the full value of the technical assistance we deliver to our members. And it is for this reason that we recognise the importance of promoting human rights as a key part of broader efforts to forge sustainable development paths for our members. This has underpinned our support for the 84th Session in Samoa – putting Pacific peoples, and in this case, Pacific children, first.
That we are here celebrating the opening of this session is a testament to the collaboration and goodwill of all those involved and I wish acknowledge:
- the Government of Samoa as host country;
- the Committee on the Rights of the Child;
- the Governments of the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Tuvalu and their respective delegations;
- civil society organisations from Kiribati and across the Pacific;
- the United Nations, in particular the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights;
- my own organisation – the Pacific Community / SPC;
- and of course, most importantly, the children of Samoa and the region.
In closing, let me acknowledge representatives from the governments of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. Their support for this 84th Extraordinary Session demonstrates a strong commitment to promoting human rights in the Pacific and in particular to the rights of children in the region.
I began my comments today highlighting the Pacific belief that it takes a village to raise a child. Today that village is right here in this room. Together, I’m confident that we can show the leadership needed to build a sustainable future for the children of this region.