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Submissions due: Inquiry into the role of human rights in foreign policy
Closing date: 31 July 2000.
The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has initiated an inquiry into the role of human rights in foreign policy, for consideration and report back to the House.
If you wish to make a submission to the inquiry, Please read the terms of reference (below); write your submission and forward twenty copies of it to David Sanders, Clerk of the Committee, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, Parliament House, Wellington. Your submission must reach him before 31 July 2000.
Please indicate clearly on the submission if you, or members of your organisation, wish to appear before the committee to present your submission. If you do wish this, then you should provide names, addresses and daytime contact telephone numbers for those persons wishing to appear.
Any submission received by the committee generally becomes public when it is released by the committee, or when it is presented orally before the committee, or when the committee makes its report to the House. If you do not want your address or telephone number released, such details should be omitted from your submission and provided in a separate covering letter.
You may apply for any or all of your evidence to be heard in private or secret. Committees normally require reasons before agreeing to such requests. Please contact David Sanders tel (04) 471 9999 if you wish to make such an application.
Should the committee decided to hear submissions orally, hearings will be arranged at the committee’s discretion and you will be contacted regarding dates for the hearing.
Terms of Reference
To inquire into NZ’s part in the promotion and implementation of international human rights, focusing particularly on the Asia / Pacific region. This enquiry to have particular reference to :
The debate on the interpretation of human rights, particularly in the Asia / Pacific;
The place of human rights in the relations between NZ and other countries;
The place of the debate on human rights in the debate on regional security and stability;
NZ’s role in the establishment and strengthening of multilateral human rights instruments;
The extent of ratification of UN human rights treaties, particularly in the Asia / Pacific region, and the impact this has on the promotion and protection of the rights of children (including child labour issues), women, workers, indigenous people and minorities;
The role of existing NZ institutions, both governmental and non-governmental, and the means by which these might be improved;
The adequacy of existing mechanisms for the formulation, implementation and review of human rights strategy as an integral component of foreign policy.
The committee will present a report containing recommendations to the House.
Expanded Terms of Reference
The inquiry has six subheadings. Listed below are some of the questions that could be dealt with under each sub-heading.
To inquire into New Zealand's part in the promotion and implementation of international human rights, focussing particularly on the Asia/Pacific region. This inquiry to have particular reference to:
a) the debate on the interpretation of human rights, particularly in the Asia/Pacific.
- Are human rights standards universal, or culturally relative?
- Are human rights of secondary importance to socio-economic development?
- How much does socio-economic development provide a foundation for human rights?
b) the place of human rights in the relations between New Zealand and other countries.
- How do they affect the closeness of bilateral relations?
- How do they affect multilateral associations?
- How do they affect trade?
- How do they affect priority setting for New Zealand's ODA?
- How do they affect the nature of New Zealand's ODA, through government and NGO channels, and through multilateral bodies?
- What are the considerations as to how New Zealand makes representations on human rights violations? How quiet or loud should the diplomacy be, and in what circumstances?
- What sort of aid should we be giving in human rights training? Are there particular situations, like Bougainville, where human rights training is a useful form of aid?
c) the place of the debate on human rights in the debate on regional security and stability.
- To what extent do conflicts or potential conflicts stem from human rights difficulties?
- How important is democratisation to peaceful dispute resolution?
- How should human rights situations determine our military relationships with other countries?
- Should there be different considerations for bilateral and multilateral associations?
- To what extent should human rights training be promoted for New Zealand Defence Force peacekeepers, New Zealand Police serving overseas, other nations security forces?
d) New Zealand's role in the establishment and strengthening of multilateral human rights instruments.
- What has been New Zealand's experience, through the Human Rights Commission, in establishing and promoting the Asia/Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (New Zealand to host in Rotorua this August)? Can this be improved?
- What role is New Zealand playing in the establishment of the International Criminal Court?
- What role does New Zealand see for special war crimes tribunals and national war crimes tribunals?
- What are the international ramifications of the "Pinochet" legal precedent for New Zealand law, in terms of alleged war criminals New Zealand courts may wish to try?
- What role does New Zealand play in strengthening UN human rights instruments?
- What are the current problems and what are our attitudes to them. What personnel do we devote to this area?
- What role does New Zealand play in Commonwealth human rights work, through such things as the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and the funding of human rights projects through the Good Government Fund? Can this be improved?
- Should we propose a Pacific human rights centre, to promote human rights in the Pacific?
e) the extent of ratification of UN human rights treaties, particularly in the Asia/Pacific region, and the impact this has on the promotion and protection of the rights of children (including child labour issues), women, workers, indigenous people and minorities.
- What are the reasons for low ratification, particularly in the Asia/Pacific?
- Can New Zealand help increase the ratification?
- What can be done to advance human rights prior to ratification?
- Are there any problems in New Zealand's ratifications of international conventions, and legislating domestically for conformity to them?
- Once ratified, what status or enforceability do international human rights treaties have in Asia/Pacific countries?
f) the role of existing New Zealand institutions, both governmental and non-governmental, and the means by which these might be improved.
- What is the current situation, particularly in relation to MFAT? Is the Human Rights Unit properly resourced?
- How do we gather information on international human rights and how is it used? Can this be improved?
- To what extent do we have human rights auditing, in terms of the work of our multi-faceted relations with other countries? What types of improvements could be suggested?
- To what extent are there human rights reporting procedures in reports from units of MFAT and other appropriate departments? What types of improvements could be suggested?
- How is the government cooperating with NZ NGOs concerned with international human rights? What type of improvements could be suggested? What role does the government see New Zealand NGOs playing in international human rights, in education work and in campaigning (both within New Zealand and overseas)?
- What sort of "human rights capacity building" is New Zealand involved in, particularly in the Asia Pacific?
- What is the work being done by the Human Rights Commission in this respect? Should there be a strengthening of the capacity of the Human Rights Commission to carry out international work?
- What are our special responsibilities in the South Pacific? Are there areas for improvement?
- What is the nature of the education in international human rights being conducted by New Zealand government departments, such as MFAT? How could this be improved?
- Are there any weaknesses in education in international human rights for the broader New Zealand community? Should there be special programmes for New Zealanders or awards for New Zealanders to study human rights overseas?
- How do New Zealand refugee authorities get "country status" reports on human rights to determine the degree of threat to refugees from that country? Are refugee communities and non government refugee aid bodies consulted? Can any of these processes be improved?
g) The adequacy of existing mechanisms for the formulation, implementation and review of human rights strategy as an integral component of foreign policy
- To what extent do human rights outcomes figure explicitly in the strategising of the various government ministries and departments involved in NZ's external relations?
- What is the extent of cross-agency cooperation on human rights issues?
- How is the effectiveness of New Zealand's human rights work gauged?
- What mechanisms are employed by like-minded countries - such as ministerial advisory committees on human rights, parliamentary human rights committees or human rights ambassadors - and should New Zealand emulate them?
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