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Time to address serious economic and social human rights issues

Graphic: The fern is a symbol of New Zealand

Chief Commissioner Paul Hunt said the 160 UPR recommendations accepted by the government provide a roadmap to progress human rights.

The government's adoption of 160 recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council highlights the need to face up to the serious economic and social human rights issues facing the country, according to the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt made the comments following the government's adoption of 160 of the 194 recommendations made through the Council's review of New Zealand's human rights record under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

While welcoming the government's response to the majority of the recommendations, Mr Hunt said the recommendations highlighted significant human rights issues for the country.

"Poverty is a human rights issue. Nearly 30 per cent of New Zealand children live in households with income below the poverty line. Couple this with the housing crisis, rising living costs hitting the poor the hardest and systemic discrimination – it shows we have serious human rights issues that need to be addressed," Mr Hunt said.

The 160 recommendations that have been accepted provide a clear roadmap to progress human rights in the country, he said

"By acting on them we will also ensure that New Zealand complies with its international human rights obligations, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and the rights of indigenous peoples" Mr Hunt said.

In a pre-recorded video address to the UN Human Rights Council session at which New Zealand adopted the UPR recommendations, Mr Hunt urged the government to use human rights to deliver better social and economic outcomes for New Zealanders.

He also spoke about the Christchurch Mosque Attacks, the challenges relating to structural and direct discrimination, and the damaging impacts of colonisation.

"2019 will be remembered as one of the most challenging years, in recent times, for human rights in Aotearoa New Zealand. The immediate aftermath has generated enormous solidarity and public compassion," Mr Hunt said in the video address.

"It's extremely important that we ensure the human rights of marginalised communities in New Zealand are fully upheld," he said.

Click here to read the recommendations adopted by the New Zealand Government.

Date: 5 July 2019

Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission

Image credits

  1. The fern is a symbol of New Zealand - Keith Bremner on Unsplash