30 Oct 2007

Pacific countries challenged to improve performance on human rights

11:08 am on 30 October 2007

Pacific Island countries are being challenged to play more of a role in better upholding human rights standards.

Thirty MPs from 11 Pacific Island countries are in Auckland to attend a 5 day regional discussion of the integration of international human rights standards into national policy.

The conference was opened on Monday by New Zealand's Speaker of the House of Representatives, Margaret Wilson.

She says few Pacific Island countries have signed up to international treaties on human rights, and the Pacific has the lowest ratification rate in the world.

Margaret Wilson says it's possible to find ways through the difficult issue of human rights in relation to local culture.

She says an equally difficult issue that needs to be addressed by the leaders is gender equality.

The Speaker says it's crucial that human rights, gender and international conventions are protected by the countries leaders.