Donors to foot $1 million conference bill

A forthcoming United Nations (U.N.) Convention on the Rights of the Child conference will be staged at an estimated cost of more than $1 million.

But the majority of that sum will be funded by the United Nations and the Regional Rights Resource Team of the Pacific Community (S.P.C. R.R.R.T.).

“[An allotment of $300,000] is our contribution to the meeting as host country,” says the Ministry of Justic and Courts Administration Chief Executive Officer, Moliei Simi Vaai. 

Ms. Vaai, in a statement issued in response to questions from the Samoa Observer, stated the total budget for the Committee meeting and associated activities exceeds $1,000,000. 

“This is quite obviously an expensive undertaking," she said. 

Samoa's hosting of the conference makes it the first country the first ever United Nations treaty body session to be held out of Geneva.

The C.E.O. explained the $300,000 was recently approved in the Government's supplementary budget for Financial Year 2019-2020.

“Our contribution to the meeting as the host country will be covered by this budget," said Ms Vaai.

Ms. Vaai said that Samoa's hosting obligations extended to transportation, advertising, webcasting the conference, gifts, a welcoming reception, traditional performance sightseeing and other items yet to be finalised. 

But Ms. Vaai said the entire budget may not be utilised, the C.E.O. clarified, due to the S.P.C.’s R.R.R.T. and the U.N. sharing most of the costs.  

The C.E.O. told the Samoa Observer bringing the conference to the Pacific was a vital step. 

“The meeting agenda will highlight human and children’s rights in the context of our cultural values and religious belief," she said. 

“And bringing the C.R.C. Committee to experience the Pacific is key to contextualising our cultures and faith, so they can appreciate our cultural environment and way of living to put perspective on the Convention and its protocols and how they should be applied in the region.   

“For the children of the Pacific, this is so vital in the local context of children’s access to health, protection and a healthy living environment, to being educated, to have protection from domestic violence and sexual violation to name a few. 

“These are growing issues locally as highlighted by the measles outbreak and the growing rate of sexual abuse and offending on young people in the community and in the Pacific. We all want our children to feel safe and protected in our families and community.“ 

Ms. Vaai stated the meeting should also serve as a reminder to parents and caregivers to recognise their responsibilities.

“This is in our hands and the C.R.C. is holding us accountable for our children’s future and for the generations to come," she said. 

The C.R.C. committee usually meets in Geneva to conduct reviews of how countries are performing against their human rights obligations under the Convention.

“The Committee conducts an interactive dialogue with the country under review and considers written and oral reports from civil society [organisations] before making recommendations on how the country can improve," she said. 

“However, the costs and time involved in travelling to Geneva preclude many Pacific Island nations and organisations from participating in these important dialogues.  

“Further, the Committee members do not get the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the Pacific by experiencing the region first-hand and by engaging directly with a wider range of children and civil society organisations.” 

Ms. Vaai said that having the Committee sit in Samoa is a first, which will enhance its understanding of the Pacific:

“It will also allow for the wider participation of Pacific children, civil society organisations, governments, national human rights institutions and other actors,” she said.

“It is also a golden opportunity to publicise the Convention, the work of the Committee and the U.N. [treaty system] as a whole. 

“This is an opportunity to make history by having one of the U.N. Treaty Body Committee visit and engage with the very people under its governance. It is in our respectful opinion well worth the investment of time, resources and money, especially in the critical area of children's rights.” 

During the meeting the Committee will consult with state delegations from the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Tuvalu and civil society organisations from Kiribati on their progress on child rights. 

The four Pacific Island nations will participate in this review. 

A number of side events will also be facilitated on topics relevant to the Pacific and to the work of the Committee, such as: human rights and children in the Pacific and the right to health and early childhood development. 

The Committee on the Rights of the Child is a body of 18 independent world experts that monitors implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (C.R.C.) by its state parties. Samoa's representative on the Committee is the Acting Chief Justice, Vui Clarence Nelson. 

The C.R.C. convention has been ratified and adopted by all countries in the world with the sole exception of the United States of America. It is the most ratified international treaty in the history of the world.

The human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of all children. 

Nations that ratify the C.R.C. are bound to its contents by international law. 



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