Speech by UN Resident Coordinator, Lizbeth Cullity at NHRI Launch

Dec 10, 2013

H.E. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi 

Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable  Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo

Ms Rosslyn Noonan, Human Rights Consultant and Representative of the Asia Pacific Forum

Mr Eric Friberg, Deputy Head of Office, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Regional Office for the Pacific

The Ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma

The Deputy Ombudsman, Maula Pepe Seiuli

Representatives from civil society organizations

Members of the Diplomatic Community

UN colleagues

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you, Prime Minister for your inspiring opening remarks, and thank you Revernd for your blessings on our celebrations this morning.

I’m delighted to speak today, on international human rights day, on the occasion of the launch of Samoa’s national human rights institution. I want to first congratulate Samoa for its achievement of establishing this institution as part of the Komesina o Sulufaiga [Ombudsman], with the mandate to protect and promote human rights in the country.

The establishment of a national human rights institution marks Sāmoa’s accession to the rank of countries which regard the enjoyment of people’s rights and freedoms among their most essential priorities. The creation of this institution signifies that human rights are not merely acknowledged as a symbolic issue for the country, but rather, the launch of this institution creates for the people of Samoa a place where they may seek assistance and advice for concrete human rights issues they face in their day-to-day lives. 

Today’s milestone follows extensive cooperation between the Government of Samoa and the UN Human rights system over the past several years. The establishment of the national human rights institution in fact is the realization of a commitment Samoa made in 2011, when its human rights record was reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council. The efforts of the Government of Sāmoa in delivering on its commitments deserve the highest recognition. 

And as the representative of the UN system in Samoa, I am proud that the United Nations has been able to support the Government in establishing this institution, jointly with our partners from the Asia-Pacific Forum.

Samoa’s achievement is an important milestone not only for the country but for the region as a whole. In fact, the process that led to the establishment of the national human rights institution, and especially the commitment demonstrated by the Government and civil society groups, serves an excellent example that other countries in the region can look to. 

We’re very pleased to support the Ombudsman office, jointly with the Asia Pacific Forum on National Human Rights Institution, in hosting a regional roundtable tomorrow, during which Samoa will share its experience of establishing such an institution with other countries from the region.

Human rights are one of the three pillars of the United Nations and central to all of the work we do. The UN system has been supporting the Government in the lead-up to this institution’s establishment. Today, at its launch, I want to reiterate the full commitment of the UN family to assist the Ombudsman in its efforts to realize its important new mandate. 

Thank you and Soifua,

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