Other conventions and international reporting mechanisms

International Networks and Projects

The Human Rights Commission has a strong commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights within the Pacific and the wider Asia-Pacific region. In working towards this goal the Commission works with the Asia Pacific Forum of Human Rights Institutions and other national human rights bodies.

The Commission has outlined in the role it can play in Pacific realm countries, particularly Tokelau, Cook Islands and Niue, in the document below.

The Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions

The Forum is an independent non-profit organisation that supports, through regional cooperation, the establishment and development of national institutions in order to protect and promote the human rights of the peoples of the region.

The objectives of the Forum are to:

  • respond where possible with personnel and other support to requests from governments in the region for assistance in the establishment and development of national institutions
  • expand mutual support, co-operation and joint activity among member institutions through:
    • information exchanges
    • training and development for commission members and staff
    • development of joint positions on issues of common concern
    • sharing expertise
    • periodical regional meetings
    • specialist regional seminars on common themes and needs
  • responding promptly and effectively to requests from other national institutions to investigate violations of the human rights of their nationals present in a country that has a national institution
  • welcome as participants in the Forum other independent national institutions that conform with the Paris Principles
  • encourage governments and human rights non-government organisations to participate in Forum meetings as observers.

The Forum currently has a membership of 17 national human rights institutions from across the Asia Pacific. Full membership of the Forum is based on an institution meeting the minimum standards in the United Nations-endorsed Paris Principles.

For more information on The Asia Pacific Forum see the Forum’s website.

Philippines Human Rights Community Development Project

The concerning human rights situation in the Philippines and the vulnerability of indigenous peoples to human rights abuses led to the bilateral project between the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP) and the NZ Human Rights Commission (funded by NZAID).

Three communities were identified as at risk of, or had experienced, human rights abuses – the Kankan-ey, Higaonon and Sama Dilaut/Bajau. These groups were subsequently invited to participate in this project.

The project worked to empower these vulnerable communities by using a human rights community development approach delivered by specialist project teams. The project participants learnt to identify their human rights issues, prioritise and implement strategies to deal with these, appoint human rights advocates and commit to continuing with identified actions after the formal conclusion of the project.

Although the two-year project concluded in 2010, it is hoped that ongoing support of the CHRP and many organisations and agencies involved will continue to sustain the development of self-reliant and respectful communities.

Read the story of this project Building Human Rights Communities – The experience of three indigenous peoples in the Philippines (PDF).

Origin of the project

In the Philippines human rights are included in constitutional guarantees, laws and policies but do not necessarily translate into practice. Indigenous peoples are particularly susceptible to human rights abuses including extrajudicial killings, detention, torture and disappearances. The Philippines police and defence forces have been identified as two institutions which most affect the human rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines.

The governments of the Philippines and New Zealand agreed in May 2007 to invite the two human rights commissions to work together to contribute to the strengthening of human rights in the Philippines.

The project

Based on the findings of a scoping exercise to the Philippines in Sept 2007, NZAID approved a proposal from the Commission for a three-year bilateral project between the CHRP and the Commission aimed at :

  • strengthening the ability of indigenous communities to identify and confront human rights abuses
  • encouraging the integration of human rights into the practices of the Police and Military in those communities and
  • supporting the CHRP to develop, implement and evaluate a human rights community development approach in indigenous communities that can be extended to, and adapted for other communities.

The Communities

The three Indigenous communities were selected according to criteria agreed upon by the project partners. They were:

  • The Kankan-ey of Kibungan in Benguet. Found in Northern Luzon these largely agricultural people of the Cordilleras face development aggression over their lands and potential cultural decimation.
  • The Higaonon of Esperanza in Agusan del Sur. Located in the Southern island, Mindanao the rich culture of the Higaonon faces insurgency and counter-insurgency and is subject to the violence and oppression of ongoing conflict.
  • The Sama Dilaut or Bajdao/Bajau of Zamboanga and of Basilan. A nomadic sea-faring people from the Sulu Archipelago, the Sama Dialut have been economically marginalised, dispossessed of territory and culturally excluded from participation in Filipino society.

Project on the impact of international instruments on New Zealand law, policy and practice

New Zealand governments have ratified a number of major international human rights treaties, but little research is available about their impact.

A three year study, funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation, is designed to assess what impact these treaties are having, how they are used by the State and by the courts, and whether they influence domestic legislation, policy development and practice.