Commission welcomes UN Committee recommendations on social, economic and cultural rights

The Human Rights Commission welcomes a series of wide-ranging recommendations on social and economic issues from the United Nations and says they offer a way for the Government to demonstrate progress in improving the lives of New Zealanders.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights concluded its examination of a report from the New Zealand Government on progress in meeting the country’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The UN Committee’s concluding observations, including key recommendations were released on 21 May.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford attended the meetings in Geneva, said the New Zealand presence at the United Nations showed the value the country has long placed on human rights. “It was a valuable experience for all concerned. Appearing before the UN offers a way for states to show they take their international obligations seriously and in turn, provides a necessary external perspective on the progress New Zealand continues to make.”

A number of recommendations relate to the four areas of major focus identified by the Commission this year: entrenched inequalities; violence, abuse and bullying; the Canterbury earthquake recovery and incorporation of international human rights standards in domestic policy and law.

Youth unemployment, Maori and Pacific and disabled people’s socioeconomic disadvantage, the fairness of welfare reforms,better data collection for disabled New Zealanders, monitoring of the health of people with intellectual disability and the need for the Government to provide data to prove that plans and strategies are actually improving the lives of the people who are supposed to benefit  are included in recommendations from the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Chief Commissioner David Rutherford noted that when the Government spoke to its report in Geneva it had been frank in acknowledging that widely entrenched inequalities were not acceptable.

Mr Rutherford saw recent key result areas for a range of socio-economic measures as potentially one way to measure genuine progress. “We all would hope that by acting on these recommendations we will make a genuine and sustainable impact to improve people’s lives.”

He noted that New Zealand now had an obligation to report back to the UN Committee in five years with data based evidence of significant progress.

The UN Committee commended the work of the Human Rights Commission and the expansion of its mandate to meet evolving needs.


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