“It’s critical for small island nations like Tonga to have our voices heard at the Human Rights Council. Being here allows us to speak directly to the global community about the human rights issues that are of greatest concern to us," said Elsie Fukofuka of Tonga.
Fukofuka was the 100th beneficiary of the
Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The Fund provides support for people from least developed and small island nations to come to Geneva to learn about the work of the Human Rights Council.
The Fund began in 2014, and has since brought 105 delegates and fellows (62 women, 43 men) from 69 countries that do not have permanent representation and that would otherwise not have access to the Human Rights Council sessions.
Deputy High Commissioner of Human Rights Kate Gilmore said the Fund’s success is also in its training and capacity building support for beneficiaries.
“Together, let us ensure that the LDCs - SIDS Trust Fund success story continues and that we are able to achieve our goal of securing universal participation at every session of the Human Rights Council," Gilmore said during a presentation during the 38th session of the Human Rights Council.
Fukofuka said it was invaluable to attend the Council, to bring to the global community concerns of small-island States about the importance of addressing climate change as a fundamental human rights issue.
We see climate change as a core human rights issue. It affects every aspect of our lives," she said.Erosion and sea level rise may eventually result in the disappearance of our islands and the very existence of our country. It is our human right to survive."
She said it was critical for Tonga and other SIDS delegations to continue to play an active role in Human Rights Council discussions to call attention to the urgency of acting on climate change.
“Our small islands are the least responsible for climate change, but are among the most vulnerable," she said.We look to countries that have contributed more to this global security threat to take responsible measures to mitigate and adapt in accordance with the Paris Agreement, so that we can reduce the warming of our climate and its effects on the Pacific."
26 July 2018