IN PREPARATION FOR GENEVA HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MEETING
PORT VILA, Vanuatu—Nineteen participants from the Vanuatu government and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) took part in a mock Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session in Port Vila. The Vanuatu government will be undergoing their third UPR at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Jan. 24, 2019, where the nations performance in protecting and promoting human rights, and the progress made in implementing recommendations from its previews review will be assessed.
The two-day mock session was facilitated by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) on Jan. 17-18 in collaboration with the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). The session was held as part of the U.K.-funded Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project. The session was attended by the Minister for Justice, Don Ken, who will lead a ministerial delegation to Geneva for the UPR process.
Setariki Waqanitoga, senior policy advisor at the Ministry of Justice in Vanuatu, expressed his satisfaction with the session as a means to build confidence for the upcoming meetings in Geneva saying, “The mock human rights reporting session has been very helpful in that it has given the Vanuatu government delegation a feel of the atmosphere in Geneva at the Human Rights Council as we prepare for our third Universal Periodic Review.”
Director general of the Ministry of Justice and Community Services and head of National Human Rights Committee, Dorosday Kenneth, echoed this sentiment comments made after the conclusion of the session. “The mock session provided the delegation with the opportunity to understand the scope of what is expected in Geneva and it has also allowed them the chance to understand what UPR is as an international forum to openly discuss the issues of human rights in the country.”
Kenneth added, “The high attendance by representatives of the different government sectors at this mock session indicates the Vanuatu government’s commitment to implementing human rights recommendations across all divisions.”
The session in Vanuatu is part of RRRT’s wider ongoing work in Pacific to support countries engagement in the UPR processes. Miles Young, director of RRRT, highlighted the importance of these sessions for the region.
“Mock sessions are a vital part of preparation for state delegations as it gives them a chance to rehearse their answers and receive critical feedback on their presentation and responses. The session which has concluded in Vanuatu will help ensure the dialogue in Geneva is richer, leading to more relevant recommendations and increased impact on the ground.” (PR)