The Bougainville House of Representatives has affirmed its commitment to human rights by unanimously approving the establishment of a new Parliamentary Committee.
The existing Parliamentary Committee on Gender, Peace, and Security will now be expanded to become the Parliamentary Committee on Gender Equality and Human Rights.
Deputy Speaker and Chairperson of the Committee, Francesca Semoso, said that with human rights underpinning the existing thematic areas of the committee it was a logical choice to see its mandate expanded and portfolio broadened.
The motion for the establishment of the new Committee was passed during the September sitting of the Bougainville House of Representatives, with support provided by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Enhancing the role of parliaments in the protection and realization of human rights is an emerging issue, with several parliaments around the world looking to both prioritize human rights and engage with the United Nations to assist in doing so.
President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Chief John Momis, praised the creation of this new Committee and commented that elected representatives have an obligation to ensure that human rights remain front and center.
“Human rights are critically important to everyone, and we must all work together to ensure that as parliamentarians human rights remain at the heart of our work,” President Momis said.
A three-day seminar following the approval of the expanded committee began on Tuesday, enhancing the capacity of the Members of the Bougainville House of Representatives to deliver on their human rights responsibilities.
UN Liaison Officer, Rui Flores, said that human rights and the role of parliamentarians are intrinsically linked.
“This idea that human rights are rights that everyone has, lies at the core of the work of the United Nations. Enhancing the capacity of parliamentarians to deliver on their human rights responsibilities is incredibly important, and by providing them with a foundational understanding of human rights we hope that we see this incorporated into their parliamentary work,” Mr. Flores said.
Support for furthering human rights in Bougainville comes via the UN Peacebuilding Fund and the Gender and Youth Initiative Promotion Initiative. The initiative focuses on the empowerment of disenfranchised groups in Bougainville, mainly women and youth, and persons with disabilities.