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Human rights the answer to the Pacific's challenge

Pacific leaders must make human rights the answer to the Pacific's challenges

Leaders meeting at the Pacific Islands Forum beginning today in Auckland leaders must demonstrate their commitment to human rights by turning rhetoric into reality, according to Amnesty International.

Amnesty International is present at the Pacific Islands Forum to remind Pacific leaders that their job as leaders is to protect, promote and uphold all human rights for all people.

"Leaders will have to combat the growing cynicism that people have towards these sorts of summits by doing more than merely talking ? they must live up to the human rights principles they have already declared their support for, like those in the Biketawa Declaration from 2000," said Rebecca Lineham, Amnesty International's spokesperson at the Forum.

"In recent years "the Pacific Way" has been in danger of taking on a whole new meaning: instability, corruption, poverty, violence. As the larger Pacific states have shown increasing frustration at the lack of "good governance" there has been increasing nervousness within smaller island states that use of terms like "human rights" reflect particularly western, perhaps even neocolonial, agendas. Yet the lack of respect for human rights are at the heart of many of the problems in the Pacific region, and human rights are certainly a big part of the solution," Ms Lineham said.

In dealing with the challenges which face the Pacific region, tough choices are being made. International human rights standards, which apply equally across the world, are the best benchmark against which to make tough choices.

Amnesty International is calling for a greater recognition of human rights in the Pacific.

This means

· recognising and openly acknowledging the human rights violations inherent in almost all of the current challenges facing the Pacific;

· ensuring that solutions are targeted not only to eliminating a problem but are explicitly formulated to improve and protect human rights.

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