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Remarks by SG Tuiloma Neroni Slade at grant contract signing with EU

STATEMENT BY
SECRETARY GENERAL TUILOMA NERONI SLADE

Grant Contract signing ceremony for the Ratification, Reporting and Implementation of Human Rights Treaties and Conventions
including the Rome Statute

between the

European Union
and the
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

20 February 2012, Forum Secretariat Fale


H.E Ambassador Dr Abdoul-Aziz Mbaye,
Head of the European Union Delegation for the Pacific
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Deputy Director General of the SPC
Distinguished representatives of the UN and CROP agencies
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,


Good morning and a warm welcome to you all.

2. Thank you all for accepting our invitation to witness the signing today of the Grant Contract Agreement between the Forum Secretariat and the European Union for an amount totalling 1 million Euro. This funding assistance is provided specifically to support the key strategic objectives of Initiative 12.5 of the Pacific Plan in respect of the ratification and implementation of international and regional human rights conventions, covenants and agreements.

3. As you know, Forum Leaders have adopted a Vision expressing the desire to foster peace, harmony, security and economic prosperity in the region. To give effect to this vision, Forum Leaders endorsed the Pacific Plan which provides the basis for ongoing strengthening of regional cooperation and integration efforts for the benefit of the people of the Pacific.

4. Our region’s partnership with the European Union is central to that effort, a partnership which has spanned some thirty-six years. The EU’s assistance to the Pacific is sensitive to and supportive of the aspiration of the Pacific Plan to foster security and good governance, regional integration and a commitment to the sustainable management of Pacific natural resources.

5. Key to the success of our region’s ongoing partnership with the EU is the shared respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, democratic principles, good governance and the rule of law. These are fundamental and indispensable elements, inherently part of the strategic objectives of the Pacific Plan and the struggle in this region against and for poverty reduction, improved gender equality and improved political and social conditions for stability and safety.

6. Many of our island countries are democracies with varying human rights records. But our region’s overall level of ratification of human rights treaties is low by international standards, with almost all Pacific Island countries having ratified in some cases two at the most of the nine core international Human Rights instruments . And then many of the countries which have ratified international human rights treaties face difficulty in complying with accompanying reporting obligations.

7. As with many in other parts of the world, the Pacific Island countries with their geographic size and isolation face a series of challenges in implementing human rights treaties, ranging from gaps in technical knowledge or human resources to budgetary and planning demands and other competing priorities. Conscious of these challenges, the EU has offered support to the value of €1 million for ratification and reporting on core Human Rights covenants and treaties and also the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). As of today, eight Pacific Island countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Timor-Leste, have ratified the Rome Statute, with Vanuatu becoming the 120th State Party to do so last December. I should inform you that last week following an international conference on the ICC held in Sydney at the University of New South Wales, I participated in a roundtable meeting, together with the President of the International Criminal Court and its Prosecutor and with senior Law Officers of Pacific countries to consider practical issues pertaining to the ratification and implementation of the Rome Statute of the Court.

8. The Agreement that we sign this morning will be implemented by the Forum Secretariat in partnership with the SPC/RRRT, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), and other relevant human rights stakeholders. We look forward to working with these partners in assisting Forum Island countries with relevant ratification and reporting on core international human rights treaties, including the Rome Statute, and in the provision of requisite training and capacity building at national levels to support these efforts.

9. I want also to acknowledge and give emphasis to the immensely important role and contribution of civil society organisations. Their work and service in this area is simply critical, in assisting with the information and outreach activities around the ratification processes and in lobbying governments to ratify, implement and report on human rights treaties. The human rights project we are signing this morning recognises the important contribution and role that CSOs continue to play in the promotion and protection of human rights.

10. On behalf of the Forum Member countries, I request Ambassador Mbaye to express to the European Union the gratitude and appreciation of the Pacific Islands Forum for their continued assistance and support in the work of the Secretariat, as well as Forum member countries, in our collective efforts to ensure the promotion, respect for and protection of human rights.

May I thank you all for your presence and kind attention this morning.

Thank you.

 

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