Speech by Lizbeth Cullity at the Launch of the first ever State of Human Rights Report for SamoaAug 17, 2015
Reverend Elder. Kerisiano Soti,
Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi (Prime Minister)
Maiava Iulai Toma (Ombudsman)
Honorable Members of Parliament and Ministers,
Representatives of the Diplomatic Corp & International Organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the National Human Rights Institution for inviting me to the launch of the first State of Human Rights Report.
The report is an acknowledgement to the remarkable work done so far by the Government of Samoa in the establishment of a legal framework that enables the protection of human rights. At the same time, the document is an encouragement to join efforts and address specific gaps. Through its recommendations, the report provides a way forward and suggests practical solutions yet to be implemented by a wide range of social actors to fully protect the rights of the more vulnerable and marginalized.
I certainly agree with the approach that the National Human Rights Institution embraced to collect the data. It is only by making the analysis with the community and by discussing together the relationship and the similarities between the Faa’samoa and international human rights that we can build the blocks for a stronger and more equitable society.
Amazingly, when we compare the fundamental human rights guaranteed in the Samoan Constitution with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there is no discrepancy or divergence in the language or in the values. Articles on the right to life, to personal liberty or freedom from inhumane treatment - to mention a few - demonstrate the strong correspondence between the national and international law and how they mutually reinforce and complement each other.
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Equality, respect, dignity and protection for everyone… The core values guiding the social interaction of the Samoan society are an exact reflection of the values underpinning human rights.
Nonetheless, to fully protect human rights for everyone, additional efforts to raise awareness and educate people have to be made. In order to do so, we need to dispel any existing misconception on this sometimes-intangible concept, show the concrete application of human rights in daily life and also empower communities on how to take action to prevent any potential violation and discrimination from occurring.
Promoting respect for human rights is a core purpose of the United Nations and defines its identity as an organization for people around the world. In late 2013, the Secretary General renewed his commitment in the promotion of human rights and launched the “Human Rights up Front initiative”. Its aim is to ensure the UN system takes early and effective action, as mandated by the Charter and UN resolutions, to prevent or respond to violations of human rights or international humanitarian law.
It is within this framework and with a spirit of cooperation that the United Nations System in Samoa is proud to partner with the Office of the Ombudsman in the promotion of human rights. Improving the knowledge and understanding of people on the basic aetiology of human rights is a fundamental first step towards building a more harmonious and peaceful society.