Parliamentarians in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville have committed to furthering the promotion and protection of human rights through their role as elected leaders.
This commitment comes following a three-day workshop supported by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or OHCHR.
The workshop saw 38 parliamentarians, including the President, Vice President and eight Ministers in attendance. Discussions centered on sharing knowledge of the potential role of Parliaments in the promotion and protection of human rights and provided the opportunity for participants to be updated about best practices of other parliaments throughout the world.
Following this workshop, parliamentarians in Bougainville are now better placed to deliver on their human rights responsibilities and have been provided with a foundational understanding of human rights and how they should be incorporated into their parliamentary work.
The workshop follows the recent endorsement by the Bougainville House of Representatives of the establishment of the Parliamentary Committee on Gender Equality and Human Rights.
Speaking at the closing session of the workshop, President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Chief John Momis, said that human rights must be respected by all in Bougainville
“We, as elected leaders, are representing the people of Bougainville. It is incumbent for us that we embody the spirit of human rights, and we further the promotion of human rights throughout Bougainville,” President Momis said.
Participants drafted a statement following the workshop, with this to be used as a roadmap for the link between parliamentarians and human rights moving forward.
Kedar Poudyal, Human Rights Advisor with OHCHR, commented that human rights are about respect for human dignity, equality, and freedom and that it is leaders who play the role of gatekeeper; acting as both protector and promoter of human rights.
“It is fantastic to see the level of commitment by the Parliament and members of the Cabinet at this workshop. This is a commitment towards the importance of human rights here in Bougainville, and to ensure that no one is left behind,” Mr. Poudyal 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 people with special needs.