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New leadership team considers priority areas for action

Graphic: Commissioners, staff and partners of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission

Three new Commissioners, along with senior staff, have discussed their ideas and strategies to strengthen the NHRI and improve human rights outcomes.

The newly-appointed leadership team of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission has taken part in a two-day roundtable discussion to explore their ideas and strategies to strengthen the operation of the Commission and improve human rights outcomes over the next five years.

Chief Commissioner Professor Paul Hunt and Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Dr Karanina Sumeo were appointed to the Commission in October 2018, joining Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero.

The APF High Level Dialogue was an opportunity for the three Commission members and senior Commission staff to discuss priority areas for action, the strategic planning process and the tools available to the Commission to achieve their goals.

Some of the issues canvassed during the two-day program included:

  • The Commission's role in relation to economic, social and cultural rights and the environment
  • The Commission's powers to investigate human rights issues
  • The Commission's power to conduct national inquiries into serious human rights violations
  • The Commission's strategic planning process and engagement strategies.

Other topics included the practical role of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) to engage with civil society, the media and the community to promote human rights and build partnerships for change, as well as the opportunities available to the Commission to engage with regional and international human rights bodies.

Graphic: NZHRC logo

Professor Paul Hunt, who began his term as Chief Commissioner in January 2019, has already been vocal in advocating the need to address poverty in New Zealand by adopting a human rights-based approach in government policy making and service delivery.

Professor Hunt joined the Commission from University of Essex where he was a Professor in the School of Law. He was also a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1999-2002) and served as Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (2002-2008).

Dr Sumeo was previously Principal Practice Advisor (Pacific) at Oranga Tamariki, working to improve outcomes for Pacific children and families.

Paula Tesoriero is a world-champion athlete and an experienced senior manager, who has worked in private practice and as a General Manager at Statistics NZ and the Ministry of Justice.

The APF High Level Dialogue, held in Wellington from 20-21 February 2019, was facilitated by APF Expert NHRI Consultant Chris Sidoti, Ombudsman of Samoa Maiava Iulai Toma, and APF secretariat Deputy Director Pip Dargan.

Date: 25 February 2019

Image credits

  1. Commissioners, staff and partners of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission - New Zealand Human Rights Commission
  2. NZHRC logo - New Zealand Human Rights Commission