Most of us feel a little nervous when we speak in public, especially when we know we will have to face questions and even criticism afterwards.
But when you are reporting on your country's human rights activities and the people listening to you represent UN member countries, it must be a really daunting experience.
This process is known as the United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review, or UPR for short, and it is something that all UN member countries must do every four years.
Fiji last reported to the UN Human Rights Council as part of the UPR in 2010 and is due to report again in 2014. So what is the process, and why have it?
The United Nations is comprised of its membership, that is, its member countries, including all the independent states in the Pacific region. And every member of the United Nations has made commitments to improve their human rights situation.
These commitments include things like providing free primary school tuition and better access to water and sanitation services, quality healthcare, lowering maternal and infant mortality, and providing safeguards for just and favourable employment conditions.
So, every four years a representative from each member country of the United Nations must stand up and talk about how well, or otherwise, the country is progressing with its various human rights commitments. In reply, other countries can ask questions and make recommendations. This part is known as an 'interactive dialogue' and it is conducted in a very diplomatic manner.
In Fiji's case, the country has committed itself to eliminating racial discrimination and discrimination against women, as well as protecting the rights of children, by signing and ratifying international conventions to this effect.
Since its last UPR session, Fiji has also signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol. In doing so, Fiji has promised to ensuring that disabled people receive appropriate care and support and are able to fully participate in their community.
It is to be expected that, in 2014, Fiji will share its experiences and answer questions on how it is meeting the commitments it has made to its domestic population and the international community.
According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UPR process is intended to: 'remind states of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms'.
Ordinary citizens can get involved in this process, too. About six months before a country is due to appear at its UPR session, reports need to be lodged with the UN Human Rights Council. The national government must submit a report, civil society organisations such as non-governmental organisations can also submit reports, and so can individuals. The purpose of these reports is to provide the Council and the peer reviewing states with information about the country in advance of the UPR session.
In other words, as a citizen of Fiji you have a direct line to the UN Human Rights Council should you wish to share information about how well, or otherwise, you feel Fiji is progressing in its development agenda with respect to human rights. You can submit a report yourself, or do it jointly through a civil society organisation, which can include faith-based organisations.
After the reports are received and the interactive dialogue session has been conducted, a final report is prepared by the UN Human Rights Council. At this point, the reporting country may accept or reject the recommendations made by other countries. In 2009 Fiji received 103 recommendations and accepted 97 of them.
All Fiji's reports, recommendations and other pertinent information can be found on the OHCHR website by searching for Fiji.
The UPR process has not been without its critics. Many view the process as being too soft and having no teeth. The process is lengthy, costly, layered in diplomacy and there are no compliance mechanisms whereby a country is deemed by other countries to be performing particularly poorly. A country may freely reject all of the recommendations it has received should it wish to.
There are also those who feel that countries with 'bad' human rights records should not have the right to offer recommendations or criticise others. It has also been suggested that civil society organisations should be given a more prominent role in the process.
On the other hand, champions of the process argue that no state has a perfect record in the treatment and provisions it has made for its citizens, and the benefits of the process outweigh the negatives in the sense that every member state of the UN can fully participate, leading to a truly universal process. Furthermore, although limited to submission, civil society organisations and individuals can provide input and participate.
The UPR process has changed over the years as lessons are learned. All Pacific Island states have now had the opportunity to report at the UPR and receive recommendations. Possibly the most tangible benefit of the process is that countries address the commitments they have made and commit themselves to further improving services and amenities for their citizens.
nSandra Bernklau is the Programme Manager of the Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), a programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.