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Dame Carol Kidu, former leader of the opposition in Papua New Guinea (PNG), stated that, ‘Pacific countries are fighting issues of commonality such as climate change and violence against women despite the diversity of culture and language in the region.’ Dame Kidu’s remarks opened the Regional Human Rights Consultation for Members of Parliament held in Brisbane, Australia, last week.
Dame Kidu shared the challenges she encountered in implementing human rights approaches as a PNG parliamentarian and emphasised that legislative reform, especially in human rights-related issues, demanded courage of the parliamentarians and careful sensitisation of their constituencies on the relevant human rights issues. She posed the following critical question to parliamentarians in attendance, ‘Why are we defaulting on our social justice contracts and yet we are not defaulting on our economic contracts?’
Dame Kidu emphasised that, ‘globalisation poses a greater threat to the region than colonisation and therefore it is imperative that human rights standards are adhered to.’ She relayed her experience as the former PNG Minister of Community Development in which she was instrumental in lobbying for the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adding that national ownership of such international treaties is vital.
The consultation presents an opportunity for members of parliament from Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Niue, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to hear about critical human rights aspects of issues facing the Pacific region such as climate change, sexual and gender-based violence, national and regional human rights commissions, HIV and inclusion of persons with disabilities.
The consultation is aimed at providing an opportunity for Pacific parliamentarians to gain further information on current critical human rights issues so that they can in turn discuss them in their national parliaments.
The week-long consultation from 16 to 20 July 2012 ended with a mock parliament in which regional parliamentarians raised and debated human rights issues.
The annual consultation is facilitated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) team in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and in partnership with UN Women and the Asia Pacific Forum for National Human Rights Institutions. The consultation is made possible thanks to the generous funding of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
For more information, contact Lionel Aingimea (LionelA@spc.int).
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