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Commission presents urgent human rights ‘must-do’ list – NZ Human Rights Commission

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission has today launched a short film calling for the public and government to champion and protect human rights ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Seventy-five years on, the rights outlined in the Declaration remain as relevant as ever. Our short film, released today, tells some of the story of our beautiful country, which still has a way to go to fully uphold the rights of everyone who calls Aotearoa home,” says Acting Chief Human Rights Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo.

“We’re famous for our natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle, but for many in New Zealand, this simply isn’t the Aotearoa they live in.

“The reality is, we have a lot of work to do to realise fundamental human rights for everyone in Aotearoa.”

  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi is Aotearoa’s original human rights declaration, incorporating universal human rights and Indigenous rights. Understanding and acknowledging the vision within te Tiriti for an Aotearoa where Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti live in partnership, taking care of each other, is the first step in building a more beautiful New Zealand.
  • Rights of disabled people: Disabled people in New Zealand have the same rights as everyone who lives in Aotearoa. We must ensure these equal rights play out in real life. This means removing barriers like discrimination, accessibility, and pay gaps like the $255 difference in median weekly income between New Zealand’s disabled and non-disabled communities.
  • Indigenous people’s rights: Aotearoa trails other democracies in realising Indigenous peoples’ self-determination. The new Government has stated it does not recognise the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as having any binding legal effect here. The action plan for UNDRIP’s implementation has been stopped.
  • The gender and ethnic pay gap: In Aotearoa, for every dollar a Pākehā man earns, a Pākehā woman earns $0.92. The situation is even worse for wāhine Māori, Pacific and Asian women, and disabled women. The pay gap between Pasifika and non-Pasifika is particularly high, with Pasifika women earning only $0.82 cents for each dollar a Pākehā man earns.
  • The right to a decent home: Aotearoa’s housing crisis is disproportionately impacting young people, refugee and migrant families, Māori, Pasifika, single parents, elderly and disabled people. These groups are most likely to rate their housing as ‘unaffordable’,and are likely to have more trouble accessing a decent home.
  • Rainbow rights: people with Rainbow identities still struggle to have their basic rights realised, like the right to be safe and free from discrimination.

“These are just some of the key rights that the government of the day must work toward protecting and promoting,” says Sumeo.

The Commission is also highlighting the services it provides to the public to protect and educate about human rights, which includes the rights inherent within te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The campaign Let’sGoThereTogether, draws attention to the impact of the Commission’s mediation and information services, through a range of case studies provided on the campaign webpage.

“We want people to understand how we can help them, and this includes through our dispute resolution service, addressing complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment, racial harassment and other human rights concerns,” says Chief Executive Meg de Ronde.

“Together we can look to the next 75 years and create a fairer, more inclusive Aotearoa – one that lives up to its reputation as a paradise. #LetsGoThereTogether,” says de Ronde.

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission is an independent, internationally accredited and recognised National Human Rights Institution that exists to protect and uphold the rights of everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Commission has a statutory responsibility to promote, educate and protect the human rights dimension of te Tiriti o Waitangi.

More about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) details an individual’s basic rights and fundamental freedoms and was adopted in 1948 as a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”.
  • Building on the UDHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights entered into force in 1976. The two Covenants have developed most of the rights already enshrined in the UDHR, making them effectively binding on States that have ratified them. They set forth everyday rights such as the right to life, equality before the law, freedom of expression, the rights to work, social security and education. Together with the UDHR, the Covenants comprise the International Bill of Human Rights.

What role do National Human Rights Institutions like Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission play?

  • National Human Rights Institutions operationalise the principles laid out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. They help to translate international human rights standards into concrete actions and protections at the domestic level.
  • Due to its track record in Aotearoa and internationally the Commission is an A-status commission, as determined through a rigorous review process by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).
  • GANHRI’s Sub Committee on Accreditation oversees the accreditation of NHRIs, ensuring that they meet the criteria set out in the Paris Principles. The Paris Principles are a set of international standards that define the role, composition, and functions of NHRIs. This process ensures that human rights institutions around the world can remain independent of their domestic government, while remaining accountable and compliant to rigorous standards.
  • Starting in 2024, Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission will take a seat on the four-member Sub Committee on Accreditation for GANHRI, which makes recommendations on the status of other human rights institutions around the world. Only A-rated NHRIs are eligible to be appointed, following a voting process, to the Sub Committee on Accreditation.


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