EU, UN Happy With Fiji’s Progress On Human Rights

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Ambassador notes ‘a work in progress’

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 11, 2015) – Following Fiji's Universal Periodic Review in 2014, many of the country's commitment to uphold human rights yielded successful results.

That was the sentiment of European Union's ambassador to the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs during Human Rights Day celebration at Suva's Grand Pacific Hotel yesterday.

Mr Jacobs said he was happy with the progress Fiji had made in the field of human rights over the past year.

"But though we are here to celebrate and to reiterate our commitments to universal values, we must not forget that the protection of human rights is still a work in progress everywhere," he said.

Mr Jacobs said in some parts of the world, complex crises and widespread violations and abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms constituted major challenges.

[PIR editor’s note: Fiji Times reported that ‘The State's progress towards promoting and protecting human rights in the world has been recognised. ... This progress was commended by the United Nation Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the Pacific Resident Co-ordinator Osnat Lubrani in Suva yesterday. ... He was among speakers at the event to mark World Human Rights Day at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.’]

"Racial and sexual discrimination, hatred or violence directed at persons due to their gender, ethnicity, religious or political group, social class, or sexual identity strike at the very heart of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms and should never be tolerated," he said.

Mr Jacobs said human rights must never be taken for granted, but must always be fought for and nurtured as they were the basis of democracy and peace.

"The European Union constantly promotes democracy and human rights in countries around the world through political dialogue with partner governments, the mainstreaming of democratic values in all development co-operation initiatives, and specific financial and technical assistance programs such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights."

"In this context I would like to mention that we had a very successful high level political dialogue with Fiji in June this year — the first since Fiji's return to parliamentary democracy — that covered a wide range of issues including human rights."

He said the EU looked forward to seeing many more encouraging developments in the years to come.

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