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Aotearoa New Zealand’s Human Rights Under International Spotlight

Universal Periodic Review 2024

Aotearoa New Zealand’s human rights record will be under the spotlight during the United Nation’s Human Rights Council’s five-yearly Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Civil society organisations and Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission, as the country’s human rights institution, take part in the process and provide an independent assessment of how Aotearoa is progressing human rights.

The UPR is based on three reports:

  • a national report by the New Zealand Government
  • a summary of UN engagement with New Zealand since the previous UPR appearance
  • a ‘stakeholder report’ with input from the Commission, civil society and Tangata Whenua organisations. The Commission and civil society and Tangata Whenua organisations made submissions to inform the ‘stakeholder report’ in October 2023.

In Geneva, during February 13-17, the Commission and other organisations will present at a pre-session, and meetings with State delegations, to give an overview of human rights in Aotearoa. The Commission delegation will be led by Acting Chief Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Dr Karinina Sumeo.

On April 29, a Government delegation will attend the review in Geneva to explain progress on realising human rights in Aotearoa since the last review. Other member states will ask questions and make recommendations. The review is live streamed on UN Web TV.

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Following the review, an “outcome report” will be prepared to provide a summary of the discussion. The New Zealand Government chooses whether to either accept or note recommendations.

Since the first periodic review in 2008 all 193 UN member countries have been reviewed three times. This is Aotearoa’s fourth periodic review, with previous reviews in 2009, 2014 and 2019. In the 2019 review, the UPR New Zealand accepted 160 recommendations and noted 34.

Commission invited to review international human rights institutions

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission has taken up one of four voting seats on the Sub-Committee on Accreditation that peer reviews the performance and status of human rights institutions internationally.

Part of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), the Sub-Committee assesses whether national human rights institutions (NHRIs) are adhering to minimum standards – called the Paris Principles – which support their credibility and effectiveness. The Sub-Committee is hosted at the United Nations in Geneva through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) as its secretariat.

Sixteen NHRIs will appear before the Sub-Committee including from Pakistan, India, Azerbaijan, Spain and Sri Lanka. NHRIs are reviewed every five years and those assessed as complying with the Paris Principles are accredited with A-status. Those with A-status – such as the Commission – have independent participation rights at the UN’s Human Rights Council.

The Commission’s Tatau-Uruora Chef Executive Meg de Ronde will represent the Asia Pacific region and chair the Sub-Committee. The other three members are:

  • Human Rights Commission of South Africa (representing Africa)
  • Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos do Honduras (representing the Americas)
  • Greek National Commission for Human Rights (representing Europe).

The Sub-Committee has twice yearly assessments of NHRI accreditations. The Sub-Committee will next meet in March online, and in April in in person in Geneva where the Commission will take up the position of Chair.

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