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SECRETARIAT OF THE PACIFIC COMMUNITY (SPC) Nouméa, New Caledonia Suva, Fiji Islands


PRESS RELEASE February 28, 2001


Participants from four island nations of Micronesia will meet in the Marshall Islands next month for a close-up look at how key international human rights treaties relate to the lives of Pacific Islanders and the obligations of Pacific Island governments.

Two Pacific Island experts will be there to drive home the message that countries need to take their commitments seriously when they sign up to international agreements aimed at giving people equal opportunities - no matter what their sex, race, status or beliefs may be.

Legal rights educator Imrana Jalal of the Fiji Islands, and human rights and democracy activist Lopeti Senituli from Tonga will work alongside UN trainers explaining the six key international treaties under the banner of the International Declaration of Human Rights. Jalal is Chief Trainer for the Pacific Regional Human Rights Education Resource Team, also known as RRRT. Senituli, the former head of the Pacific Concerns and Resource Centre (PCRC), is now the Director for the Tonga Human Rights and Democracy group.

Funded by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights with assistance from the United Nations Development Programme, the sub-regional workshop will explain international agreements on civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, and the convention against torture (and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment).

There will also be discussion of conventions aimed at eliminating all forms of racial discrimination, and discrimination against women. An international convention on the protection of the rights of migrant workers and their families rounds off the discussion of international human rights.

And the choice of beginning the human rights training in Micronesia has been no accident: of the three Pacific sub-regions, the Micronesian countries of Kiribati, Nauru, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Guam, the Marshall Islands and the Northern Marianas have the lowest ratification status when it comes to international human rights treaties.

That status could soon change, with government and non-governmental workers in Kiribati and the Marshalls keen to make their nations the first Micronesia state to ratify the UN Convention for the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW.

Optional protocols for the international conventions will also be discussed.

UNDP's Governance Operations Specialist Patricia Sachs-Cornish will brief the meeting on how the United Nations system can help countries move forward on their commitments to the UN treaties.

The meeting will also look at the role of non-governmental organisations, review obstacles to ratification, and develop answers to deal with them.

Sachs-Cornish says it's part of the UNDP regional good-governance program to have Polynesian and Melanesian countries eventually go through the same training offered to Micronesian delegates next month.

The meeting begins in Majuro on Tuesday, March 6, and ends on Friday, March 9.

For more information, contact: Patricia Sachs-Cornish Governance Operations Specialist United Nations Development Programme SUVA E-mail: 

Lisa Leilani Williams Communications Officer Pacific Women's Resource Bureau Secretariat of the Pacific Community BP D5 - 98848 Nouméa Cedex New Caledonia Telephone: 687--26.20.00 Facsimile: 687--26.38.18 Direct Line: 687--26.01.57 E-mail:  Website: 

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