Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the Human Rights Commission outlined New Zealand’s human rights challenges today at a briefing session today for 30 Wellington-based diplomats.
The briefing, New Zealand’s first in-country ‘pre-session’ for diplomats, was the first phase of the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review of New Zealand’s human rights situation.
Acting Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero MNZM told the diplomats that while the New Zealand Government was making progress in some areas and was undertaking reviews in several sectors, there remained clear evidence of structural discrimination.
“Māori, Pasifika, women, migrants, refugees, disabled people and the Rainbow community experience markedly worse outcomes across a range of key socio-economic indicators. A statistic that is particularly concerning is that 43.3% of our disabled youth aged between 15 and 24 are not in employment, education or training,” she said.
The 13 NGOs present gave detailed presentations on issues such as family violence, youth justice and structural discrimination. Ms Tesoriero’s presentation focused on the need for human rights to inform all Government policy and legislation development.
“It is essential that all current major policy reforms incorporate a human rights framework that includes all domestic and international human rights obligations, including the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.
The diplomatic briefing was the first in-country ‘Pre-session’ held in New Zealand for a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of New Zealand’s human rights situation by the United Nations (UN). It was organised by the Human Rights Commission, with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
In the past, the Pre-session – where civil society groups brief member States of the UN Human Rights Council – has been held in Geneva and out of reach for most NGOs. Information from the session is expected to be relayed back by embassies to their capitals and their permanent missions to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The UPR of New Zealand – essentially a peer review by UN member States before the UNHRC – will take place in Geneva next January. It will consist of the New Zealand Government presenting and taking questions on its human rights situation. The Government will then receive a report with recommendations to consider.