Targeting greater positive change
PR - The United Nations Human Rights Office in the Pacific and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (M.F.A.T) hosted a three-day induction workshop at Saletoga Sands Resort recently for the soon to be established inter-governmental body on human rights reporting and follow-up.
Samoa has ratified a number of international human rights treaties, such as the:
• International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
• Convention on the Rights of the Child
• Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
• International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
Under these treaties, the government is required to report on a regular basis on the implementation of each of these conventions.
In addition, it also needs to prepare a report for the Universal Periodic Review (U.P.R) every five years. The reports are reviewed in Geneva and recommendations are made. These recommendations seek to improve human rights protection at the national level.
Currently, M.F.A.T and the Ministry of Women, Culture and Social Development produce these reports after a labor-intensive process of data collection and analysis among other ministries, civil society and the private sector. The reporting process should be streamlined.
Workshop facilitator, Ashley Bowe from O.H.C.H.R commented, ‘This new mechanism is designed to significantly reduce the work required to produce human rights reports for Samoa by bringing ministries, civil society and the private sector closer together to work in a coordinated manner and collect the data and other information they need as they go.
“This will have the huge benefit of allowing a greater focus on implementation and making sure that greater positive change is achieved for all Samoans – that is the ultimate objective and this permanent mechanism will help to ensure that always remains the focus.”
A Cabinet submission has been developed and will soon be made to formalize this platform. The new intergovernmental body will consist of the C.E.Os of key government ministries.
It will also regularly engage with civil society, the Ombudsman’s Office, the private sector and the judiciary who will be invited to participate in meetings and contribute to the planning process.
The workshop aimed to introduce the members of the intergovernmental body to their new roles and to begin the work that they will be tasked with, including the development of an implementation plan across all ministries.
One of the participants noted: “The workshop broadened my knowledge in human rights reporting processes and also networking with key stakeholders to strengthen our collaboration and coordination in implementing recommendations.”
The recommendations referred to are received by Samoa from the international human rights bodies on how to improve its human rights situation.
Data collection often poses a problem across all sectors in Samoa and to address this issue a website application is being designed and developed by O.H.C.H.R, with generous funding support from U.N.D.P and New Zealand to better facilitate data collection and coordination across ministries. For more information on the establishment of the N.M.R.F please contact [email protected]