Commonwealth Pacific states commit to strengthening national human rights mechanisms and reporting

20 May 2024

A team from the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Human Rights Unit (HRU) conducted a three-day capacity-building workshop in partnership with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) and the Government of Fiji.

Reporting on international human rights obligations

The workshop, held in Fiji from 9-11 May 2024, assessed challenges in reporting to the UN human rights mechanisms and establishing and strengthening the National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting and Follow-up (NMIRF).

One of the most effective ways of meeting the challenge of reporting on international human rights obligations is to establish effective national coordinating frameworks, which has been internationally recognised as a good practice. The Commonwealth Secretariat has been assisting member states in promoting this good practice at the national level by providing technical assistance to establish or further strengthen these national coordinating frameworks, which known as NMIRFs.

The NMIRF’s role is establishing systems for reporting to and engaging with international and regional human rights mechanisms, including the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), Universal Periodic Review (UPR), human rights treaty bodies, and the special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council.


The role of the Fijian government

Representatives from Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu were in attendance, while the UN Human Rights, Pacific Community (SPC) and Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) assisted the Commonwealth Secretariat team with resource persons in delivering the workshop.

Welcoming the delegates on behalf of the government, Fiji’s Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, the Hon Filimoni Vosarogo, stated:

“The Fijian Government is firmly committed to advancing and protecting the fundamental principles and values of universal human rights enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whilst cultivating a responsible human rights culture.”

During the workshop, participants shared experiences, challenges and good practices and took part in the capacity-building activities relating to treaty body reporting, NMIRFs, and synergies between human rights reporting, including under the UPR and Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Pacific member states were also lauded for the progress that has already been made toward improved reporting and coordination.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Delegates engaged in specific discussions on reporting under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and benefitted from the presentations made by the PDF and Rosemary Kayess, a member of the Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Representatives from the Commonwealth Secretariat, UN Human Rights, and Pacific Community (SPC) also shared information on the availability of technical assistance, which is crafted to meet the specific needs and characteristics of Pacific Small Island Developing States. 

Sumedha Ekanayake, Human Rights Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat observed that the Secretariat's technical assistance has helped Commonwealth Small States and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), including those in the Pacific, to increase their voice and visibility in the work of the UN human rights mechanisms. 

During the workshop, the Pacific Regional Representative of UN Human Rights, Heike Alefsen, said: 

“Engagement with the international human rights system offers a unique opportunity for self-assessment, for policy and legislative reforms, for interaction - bringing human rights closer to home and to the people.”

“In order to achieve real, tangible human rights results that positively impact the lives of all in the Pacific, the recommendations from United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms must be implemented.”

The workshop concluded with the adoption of an outcome statement. Among the recommendations were to strengthen synergies, share best practices as well as improve collaboration and the sharing of information with all levels of government.

Read the outcome statement


Media contact

  • Snober Abbasi Senior Communications Officer, Media and Public Affairs, Commonwealth Secretariat

  • +44 20 7747 6168 |  E-mail