In this opinion piece, Anika John reflects on how the UPR has impacted how she views human rights issues in New Zealand. A short blog that reflects on her trip to Geneva, to observe New Zealand in the Universal Periodic Review in January of 2019.
Attending New Zealand’s third Universal Periodic Review of human rights at the United Nations in Geneva, one recurrent theme of our delegation’s meetings with UN agencies was the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Despite the absence of SDGs in UPR recommendations so far, the natural convergence between the development and human rights agenda means combining the two can make them each doubly powerful. Given this under-utilised relationship, I will argue the need for the SDGs to be at the forefront of recommendations made during the current third cycle of the UPR.
At New Zealand’s five-yearly human rights review at the United Nations on Monday, we received more than 200 recommendations from UN member states. Here are three of the more unexpected, plus some insight into what our government had to say on the status of human rights in New Zealand.
Worldwide, the rights of people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and sexual characteristics are under threat. New Zealand’s third Universal Periodic Review - five-yearly process whereby a state’s compliance with international human rights treaties and norms is assessed at the United Nations - may feature New Zealand’s first ever recommendation on these issues.
In January 2019, New Zealand’s compliance with international human rights treaties and norms will once again come under scrutiny at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Ahead of this five-yearly review by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, in October the New Zealand Human Rights Commission facilitated the first-ever in-country pre-sessions held in three locations around NZ.
At the seminal COP24, Poland has absolutely nailed their warm welcome of overseas nations to talk about the future of the planet by enacting a protest ban, terrorist alert and turning people away at the border. Also, they’re hosting it in the coal heartland of the EU. Nice.
The inequity of country affluence dictates whose voices are heard and whose are absent. Where the most impacted by climate change are the worlds most vulnerable, the voices of the least impacted dominate the direction of climate solutions.
As I sit typing this on our 17-hour flight back to NZ, unable to sleep, I’m able to reflect on the fastest 2 weeks of my life, and in particular, what I learned in the 3 days of the forum. The sessions were all very different but very informative, to the point where I’m a little overwhelmed (or maybe just a little jetlagged!).
This COP, NZ will spend its time bragging about our Government ‘ending oil exploration’ (bar endless exceptions), the Zero Carbon Act (which hasn’t even been tabled yet), our ‘visionary’ leadership on ending fossil fuel subsidies (yup you read that right) and perhaps most contradictorily, our ‘equitable’ agricultural policy plan though a series of ‘Ac!ion Agriculture’ side events (including Fonterra’s ‘bold’ plan to install no new coal boilers by...2030?!?). What we won’t be mentioning is our failure to adopt a meaningful emissions regulation framework (neither a tuned-up ETS nor a carbon tax), our lack of inclusion of indigenous voices in the climate korero, a history of dragging our feet on climate negotiations, or our lack of support for Pacific nations.
Wow, we’ve only been here a week, but it’s been a week jam-packed full of meetings and tours! Just thought I’d share a bit about what we’ve been doing and some tips for any of you who might be travelling to Geneva.
It’s a little daunting, knowing I’ll be in Europe for the 1st time in a little over 24 hours, but when you’re in the world’s diplomatic capital, it’ll be an incredible experience regardless of the small hiccups we might experience.
Since returning I’ve been subliminally categorising my life as “life before COP” and “life after COP”. I do this because so much shifted, transformed and solidified for me while I was in Bonn and has continued to do so ever since - a journey that has been disheartening yet inspiring and generally intense.
The Age of Big Data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence presents exciting opportunities for everyone but it also presents challenges such as protecting people’s right to privacy. I am really looking forward to attending sessions on disruptive technology at the Business and Human Rights Forum next month.
Over these two weeks I hope to learn more about my team members and why they are passionate about the different projects they have decided to research. It’ll be really exciting to hang out with a bunch of Kiwis again, something I don’t have much opportunity to do since I moved to Australia for university. Hopefully, I will draw some inspiration from being among a bunch of individuals who are super passionate about important global issues.
The amount of essays that I have started with the phrase “The world is on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution” is insane. Its my go to. From Information Systems (where it might actually be applicable) to Art History (where I shove in a theme into my photography essay that doesn’t really fit). I can’t believe that I can write it with absolute truth now because I am off to the 2018 World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings in Bali.
I am so excited to be heading to the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings in Bali for the next two weeks. I know that this is going to be an incredible opportunity, and look forward to the challenges that it will bring.
The Ministry for Women invited AYLI to nominate some of our alumni to attend Suffrage 125 celebrations at Parliament. We extended this invitation to our alumni who are leading change for women and girls in their communities. Here’s how Melissa found the experience.
I was very privileged to visit Parliament on Suffrage Day. It felt awesome to be in a crowd of women and I knew they were all involved in amazing work! There were probably a couple of hundred people there from MPs like Louisa Wall, Jan Logie and Tracey Martin through to students, like us.