Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Thursday, 30 January 2014 (morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Vanuatu
Represented by five-member delegation headed by Ms. Jenny TEVI, Senior Desk Officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs and External Trade for Vanuatu.

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Vanuatu page on the UPR website.

Troika *

Algeria, Brazil and Maldives.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Vanuatu page on the UPR Extranet)

  • Since the adoption of the first UPR report, Vanuatu has worked hard to implement the recommendations and commitments through all relevant parties, including government agencies, official institutions and civil society organizations. Vanuatu continues to face challenges in the implementation of these recommendations;
  • After having ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, Vanuatu had completed its first initial report to the Committee in 2012. The report underwent full national consultations in all provinces;
  • A building code passed in 2013 by Parliament will ensure access for person with disabilities in existing and new facilities. A Disability Desk Officer was established in 2012 at the Ministry of Justice;
  • Since 2010, universal primary education provided fee-free education to all Government owned primary schools from class one to six;
  • A Child Desk Officer was established in 2009 at the Department of Women’s Affairs to coordinate the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • Awareness raising activities have been carried out in three provinces with focus on domestic violence. A family protection unit housed by the Vanuatu police force has been established by the Government in four provinces to deal with and investigate domestic violence reports. Due to the increased awareness of their rights, the number of reports by families of domestic and sexual violence had increased from 77 to 2,010 cases between 2011 and 2012;
  • A gender officer has been established with the department of women’s affairs to mainstream gender into national policies;
  • The Special Rapporteur on torture visited Vanuatu in 2010 and assisted the correctional services department to review procedures to eliminate the inhumane treatment of detainees;
  • The Ministry of Climate Change was established in 2013 to address climate change and disasters;
  • Among the problems identified during the compilation of the report was the fact that Vanuatu lacked the capacity to translate human rights conventions into domestic legislation;
  • In 2011, Vanuatu established a national AIDS committee and launched a standard guide for counselling services or HIV/AIDS testing facilities;
In February 2013, the Ministry of Justice and Community Services appointed an interim national human rights committee, whose mandate will be to coordinate all human rights issues and monitor and evaluate the status of national reports. This is a step towards establishing a national human rights institution in full compliance with the Paris Principles.

Participants

In total 41States participated in the dialogue:  18 HRC members and 23 observers  (Statements available on the Vanuatu page on the UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • Accession to the Convention against Torture, the Rome Statute of the ICC, the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and the UN Convention against Corruption;
  • Measures taken to promote gender equality and women’s participation in municipal councils;
  • The establishment of Family Protection Units;
  • The “No Drop” Policy concerning sexual offences and domestic violence;
  • The free and fair elections held in 2012;
  • The appointment in February 2013 of an interim national human rights committee;

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Measures to combat domestic and gender-based violence;
  • Action taken to implement the Family Protection Act;
  • Steps to reduce discrimination against women;
  • Efforts taken to ensure that the right to education was enjoyed by all children;
  • Action taken to address the negative impact of climate change on human rights;
  • Measures promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Vanuatu.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To adopt further comprehensive measures to combat domestic and gender-based violence;
  • To continue to take steps to reduce discrimination against women, in particular in the labour market and political life and adopt a strategy to properly tackle the unequal status of women;
  • To take prompt action to implement the Family Protection Act, consider initiatives to raise community awareness to the Act and to allocate sufficient resources to ensure its effective implementation;
  • To develop a compulsory policy for primary school-aged children, to continue to promote the importance of education, and to ensure that the right to education was enjoyed by all children; to allocate more resources and grants to the education sector, particularly in remote regions;
  • To provide human rights training to government officials and teachers and to include human rights education in school curricula;
  • To take further steps to ensure the progressive realization for all inhabitants of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation;
  • To seek technical assistance to improve capacity to address the negative impact of climate change and resulting natural disasters on the enjoyment of human rights;
  • To strengthen efforts to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities and to ensure all relevant domestic laws included disability as a prohibited ground of discrimination; To promptly implement the new Building Code for the Public Works Department to ensure buildings and amenities are disability friendly;
  • To revise legislation to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility; to introduce a criminal justice process for youth in line with the CRC; and to ensure the implementation of the CAT; 
  • To promptly implement the Convention on Corruption and ensure national legislation was fully aligned with the Convention;
  • To promptly create a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the ICESCR and its OP, the ICCPR and its 1st and 2nd OPs, the OPCAT, the ICERD, the 3rd OP to the CRC, the OP to the CRPD, the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Convention on enforced disappearances.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Vanuatu is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 4 February 2014.

*The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

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Cédric Sapey, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9695, csapey@ohchr.org

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