19 Jul 2004

NZ Human Rights Commissioner calls for Pacific to be zone of rights and dignity

11:43 am on 19 July 2004

The Chief Human Rights Commissioner of New Zealand is calling for the Pacific to become a zone of human rights and dignity.

Speaking after a conference of human rights commissioners in New Zealand, Rosslyn Noonan, said this would fit alongside its reputation as a nuclear free zone.

She says three countries are now planning to set up human rights commissions similar to those in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand.

One was Solomon Islands, plus two others she would not name.

Ms Noonan says the Pacific has the chance to become an area where human rights and dignity flourish, but there are challenges to overcome.

"The pacific, like elsewhere throughout the pacific region has particular challenges around poverty, the right to education, it's really quite a shocking thing when you think about it that in our region not all of the children can get access to school, and issues around the place of women."

Rosslyn Noonan says there was a clear recognition at the conference that without respect for human rights there would not be sustainable development or peace and stability in the Pacific.

She says she'll be working with the forum of pacific leaders early next year to discuss some of the structures that might be appropriate.