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Climate change impact

Repeka Nasiko
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

CLIMATE change has had a huge impact on the effective implementation of economic, social, cultural rights (ESCR) and other human rights, says United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the Pacific Dr Chitralekha Massey.

While speaking to State officials at the opening of the Regional Training Workshop on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights and Human Rights Indicators in Denarau yesterday, she said despite the challenges, the Pacific had made efforts to ensure the implementation of ESCR.

"In the context of the Pacific region, climate change and natural disasters have got significant negative impact on the enjoyment of economic, social, cultural rights and other human rights," she said.

"The vulnerable groups which include, amongst others, children, elderly, persons with disabilities, migrants and the rural poor have limited capacity and access to adequate housing, food, health and education.

"Just two small samples from the Pacific, Cyclone Pam left 3000 people homeless in Vanuatu in 2015 and in Fiji (TC Winston) affected the lives of 300,000."

Dr Massey said the OHCHR had begun its technical support for regional countries in realising ESCR obligations.

"The rising sea levels led to botanical contamination and the loss of land and crops in many Pacific island countries, Kiribati being a stark example.

"Faced with these challenges, the Pacific Island countries have indeed risen to the challenge and have taken major steps."

"The United Nations Human Rights Office in the Pacific has begun to respond to many of the generic requests for advice on economic, social and cultural rights generally.

"I also wanted to show you that we stand to respond to specific requests including the provision of technical assistance in this regard.

"To all the countries that we work alongside in addition, my office is of the firm opinion that national institutions and the judiciary have a critical role to play in this age.

"Currently, the Pacific Island States have two national human rights institutions, one in Samoa and one in Fiji.

"I am happy to share that over the next six years, my office is going to be working six other countries in the Pacific region to establish their national human rights institutions.

"We also have requests from the judiciaries of two countries to support to enhance their capacity in the area of ESCR."

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