Tuvalu commits to human rights


The Tuvalu Government reiterated its commitment to implementing human rights obligations under international law before the newly formed Human Rights Council of the United Nations late last week.

In presenting Tuvalu’s first state report to the Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Labour H.E. Enele Sopoaga noted that Tuvalu’s responsibility to human rights was actualised through state laws, regulations and national plans.

‘Tuvalu has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The CEDAW Report has been submitted and the CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child) report is in its final stages. Substantial responses to the requirements of both CEDAW and CRC have already been or are being planned by the Government of Tuvalu through the implementation of its National Sustainable Development Strategy, Te Kakeega II, its Educational Master Plan of Action and its policy for women,’ the Permanent Secretary said.

Mr Sopoaga said that the Tuvalu Government would continue to build on these existing laws and plans in partnership with other stakeholders, including civil society.

‘The Government is fully committed to collaborating with all stakeholders at the local, national and regional levels to further promote public awareness and understanding of our obligations under these conventions,’ he said.

To complement national efforts on human rights, Tuvalu was also committed to appropriate regional arrangements, particularly to the Pacific Plan, which aimed to promote the protection of human rights in the Pacific, including supporting a potential regional human rights mechanism.

But Mr Sopoaga said that while the Government of Tuvalu was dedicated to human rights, financial and technical assistance were needed to implement action on international obligations.

‘The Government of Tuvalu is committed to human rights, hence our Bill of Rights, but the reality is that many of these commitments are dependent on resources and we are unable to implement many things that we would like to commit to,’ he said.

Mr Sopoaga headed Tuvalu’s four-member delegation, which also included Attorney General Eselealofa Apinelu, Multilateral and International Affairs Officer Manaema Saitaia Takashi and Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs and Rural Development Seve Lausaveve.

Imrana Jalal, Human Rights Adviser at the Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, served as an adviser to the delegation.

The Working Group adopted the outcome report for Tuvalu yesterday (Monday 15 December).

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process that involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN member states once every four years. It provides an opportunity for all states to declare what actions they have taken to improve human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. The UPR process also includes sharing best human rights practices around the globe and is one of the key elements of the new Human Rights Council, which reminds states of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this new mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.

Tonga was the first Pacific country to submit its Universal Periodic Report earlier this year. Vanuatu is scheduled to present its report in 2009. Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia are scheduled to report in 2010, and Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands in 2011.

RRRT provides human rights training, technical support, and policy and advocacy services tailored specifically for the Pacific region. RRRT is an SPC programme under the Social Resources Division.

For more information, please contact Hannah Harborow, RRRT/SPC Communications Coordinator at (+61) 400628997 or email: HannahH@spc.int.

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