The Government has chosen to reject over a fifth of key recommendations by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the state of human rights in New Zealand.
As I’ve already written a couple of times, New Zealand was subject to its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) this year. In January, the United Nations Human Rights Council member states issued 155 recommendations in relation to human rights in New Zealand. In the 2009 review process, New Zealand was onlysubject to 64 recommendations.
Out of the 155 recommendations, New Zealand has rejected 34. Among the rejections were key recommendations dealing with inequality and the rights of children. New Zealand refused to ensure that all of our legislation would comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) – despite being a signatory to the Treaty.
Even among the recommendations that have been accepted, several were qualified. In relation to child poverty, it was recommended that New Zealand establish indicators to measure child poverty – however, the Government has chosen not to take this on board and are sticking to the measures that currently exist- despite the fact that New Zealand has no official measure of poverty.
And while the Government has made much of its apparent efforts to tackle violence against women, they rejected a recommendation to develop a national action plan to address violence against women, pay inequity and the situation of Māori and Pacific women, and women with disabilities.
New Zealand was also asked not to concede the transfer of asylum seekers to third party countries – a call that echoed the Green Party’s stance on the issue. However, in line with John Key’s statements in Queenstown, New Zealand has rejected this recommendation.
The increase in the number of recommendations is a clear reflection of the low value the National Government has placed on human rights. The Government is not shy to campaign for the Security Council seat resting on our previous human right laurels; however, it has done very little to improve the state of the most vulnerable in our country.
To be real world leaders, the Government must step up and implement the recommendations of the UPR and not continue to undo generations of hard won rights.