Human Rights Protection in the Pacific: The Emerging Role of National Human Rights Institutions in the Region
New Zealand Journal of Public International Law, Vol. 81, No. 1, 2010
Posted: 24 Jan 2010
Date Written: January 22, 2010
At present, sixty-four of the one hundred and ninety-two member states of the United Nations have National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) - state-based institutions, with mandates to promote and protect domestic and international human rights. This article explores the current moves towards the creation of NHRIs within the Pacific region. It first reviews recent developments in human rights protection in the Pacific, in particular the discussions about the establishment of NHRIs in Pacific Island states, and examines the external and national factors contributing to the increased momentum for the establishment of NHRIs in the region. The article then analyses the advantages a NHRI would offer for the better protection of human rights in Pacific Island states, and the challenges posed for them by the need for NHRIs to comply with governing international standards for effective NHRIs (the Paris Principles). We then explore how NHRIs in the Pacific might be modelled to suit what are said to be the unique “legal, political and cultural particularities” of the region, while still complying with the Paris Principles. Finally, the article considers prospects for the establishment of a regional human rights mechanism for the Pacific. We conclude that in the field of human rights, regionalism presents an incomplete response to the needs of Pacific Island states and that in the first instance energies should be directed toward the establishment of institutions within the state to promote and protect human rights.
Keywords: Human Rights Law, International Law
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