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Pacific Island nations affirm commitment to human rights at regional forum

Graphic: Participants of the Pacific Regional Forum of NHRIs in Nadi, Fiji

Pacific Island countries affirmed their commitment to protect human rights, during the Pacific Regional Forum on National Human Rights Institutions.

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Pacific Island countries have affirmed their commitment to protecting human rights for all Pacific peoples, during the Pacific Regional Forum on National Human Rights Institutions, held in Nadi, Fiji, from 21 – 22 February. 

The event, organised by the APF in partnership with the Pacific Community (SPC), aimed to facilitate dialogue among Pacific government representatives to share their experiences and to identify opportunities for establishing and strengthening National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) across the Pacific.

The forum was attended by senior government officials, attorney generals and human rights advocates from 15 Pacific Island countries including Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

Three Pacific Island countries have established NHRIs – Fiji, Samoa and Tuvalu. Samoa is the only Pacific country to have an ‘A-status’ institution accredited by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).

In his opening address, Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice, the Honourable Siromi Turaga, said that “NHRIs play a critical role in bringing human rights issues to the forefront at the international arena through their monitoring and reporting roles of human rights situation at the national level.” 

“As Pacific Island Countries, we often share common challenges, for instance, the lack of financial and human resources, loss of institutional knowledge due to staff turnover and many more that may delay the establishment of NHRIs or ensure the effectiveness of existing NHRIs.” 

Graphic: Fiji's Attorney General and Minister for Justice Hon. Siromi Turaga

He said that the Fijian government has plans to increase investment in the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission as part of its commitment to protecting human rights in the country. 

Kieren Fitzpatrick, APF Director, highlighted the importance of NHRIs being established within each Pacific state. “An independent national body is best placed to understand, promote and resolve human rights issues,” he said. 

“The APF has worked in partnership with SPC to ensure that we can provide the Pacific states with the best advice on how to establish a national body that suits their needs.”    

The forum also provided opportunities to discuss the role of NHRIs in addressing human rights challenges such as climate change and to strengthen understanding of the Paris Principles and the GANHRI accreditation process. 

The Forum concluded with an outcomes document which outlines the work of the Pacific delegations during the event and their commitment to protecting the human rights for individuals and communities across the region. 

The APF wishes to thank our valued partner SPC, as well as the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development through its Promoting Just, Engaged, Civic-minded and Transparent (PROJECT) Governance programme and the New Zealand Government.

Date: 3 March 2023

Image credits

  1. Participants of the Pacific Regional Forum of NHRIs in Nadi, Fiji - The Pacific Community (SPC)
  2. Fiji's Attorney General and Minister for Justice Hon. Siromi Turaga - The Pacific Community (SPC)