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Human rights in the Pacific: advancing community-led development

Graphic: HRCLD practitioners in the Pacific

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Over the past 12 months, the APF has collaborated with the Pacific Community (SPC) to bring together representatives from the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) of the Cook Islands, Fiji, and Samoa, to enhance their understanding of the human rights community-led development (HRCLD) approach and adapt it to suit the Pacific context.

The HRCLD approach plays a vital role in supporting communities to recognise and address human rights violations that affect them. It focuses on establishing frameworks and mechanisms within communities to enable people to deal with human rights challenges effectively.

Initiated and guided by the communities themselves, HRCLD encompasses various groups based on geography, function, or identity. In this approach, communities are defined as the places where people live, work, and play.

As part of this collaborative effort, a Navigational Map has been established to guide the application of the HRCLD approach in the Pacific region. This map will serve as the foundation for two projects, one in Samoa and the other in the Cook Islands, which are scheduled to be implemented over the next 12 to 24 months.

Graphic: Navigational map

The Pacific HRCLD practitioners have also collectively agreed upon a set of guiding principles called "The Lautoka Navigation Principles for HRCLD in the Pacific." These principles will serve as a compass, steering the HRCLD initiatives towards achieving impactful and meaningful outcomes in the region.

By adopting the HRCLD approach, NHRIs facilitate self-reliant and respectful communities capable of identifying, documenting, and monitoring human rights violations. The communities can then develop and implement sustainable strategies using local knowledge and solutions to address these violations, while also monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of their work.

In the words of a Pacific HRCLD practitioner, "The navigation principles capture the essence of the Pacific context, one our Pacific people can relate to and fully appreciate the relevance it has for us”. Another said, “I am glad to be part of this team who have one thing in common…how the community takes the leading role in HRCLD,” highlighting the enthusiasm among practitioners to support their communities to take charge of their own development and effectively address human rights issues.

Date: 31 July 2023

Image credits

  1. HRCLD practitioners in the Pacific - APF
  2. Navigational map - APF/SPC/NHRIs