The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Honourable Manasseh Sogavare;

The Australian High Commissioner, H.E. Dr. Lachlan Strahan;

Distinguished guests from the Justice Sector;

Ladies and gentlemen.

Gudfala morning everiwan,

International days are occasions to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity, to raise public awareness on issues of concern, and to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems.

This year’s International Human Rights Day falls at a crucial time for Solomon Islands and the rest of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare existing inequalities across all sectors from Health to Agriculture, Fisheries to Tourism and Justice.

Indeed, the pandemic has forcefully exposed the inequalities both in advanced and developing economies and the post-pandemic world may in fact experience even greater inequalities unless all actors from Government, Civil Society and development partners come together to work towards common goals. The Sustainable Development Goals provide a framework for shared action “for people, planet and prosperity,” to be implemented by “all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership.” In particular, SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, unites us all here this morning, and is foundational for the achievement of all other goals.   

Access to Justice and Human Rights

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Therefore, all human beings should have equal access to justice when their dignity or their rights are infringed upon. The rule of law and human rights are two sides of the same principle, the freedom to live in dignity. This intrinsic relationship has been fully recognized by UN Member States since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

However, discriminatory justice systems can undermine this basic human rights principle. When such systems cannot ensure equal access to justice for all, vulnerabilities fester and human dignity is placed at risk.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring human rights are central to recovery efforts.

Through customized trainings, provision of technical support and capacity building, UNDP encourages increased appreciation for and application of regional and international human rights principles within national legal systems. Here in Solomon Islands, it is through the coordinated effort of our national partners that this translates into practical access to justice for people, particularly marginalized groups such as women, children and people with disabilities. We are proud to support the enhancement of justice sector coordination And, it is great to see so many familiar faces from the justice sector here this morning.

16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign which commences on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and concludes on Human Rights Day. The campaign highlights that violence against women is a significant pervasive breach of human rights worldwide which has only further escalated during the global pandemic.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was born out of the demand of people to ensure respect for the dignity and rights of all individuals without discrimination and without violence. It is the expression of that same demand, that we must give voice to far beyond the 16 Days of Activism.

To close

When people can exercise their human rights, they can stand up for themselves and each other, they are empowered to shape the decisions that impact their lives and no one can be left behind. Human rights are not only the right way, but the smart way to accelerate progress for more equitable and sustainable development.

As such, we are grateful to the Government of Australia for their generous support to the Access to Justice Project and our project partners the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and the Public Solicitor’s Office for their leadership and initiative to reach the furthest behind first.

Ladies and gentlemen, Human Rights Day is an opportunity to reflect on the collaborative progress made, and in the context of this event, progress in access to justice for all, to reaffirm the importance of human rights in re-building the world we want, the need for global solidarity as well as our interconnectedness and shared humanity.

Tagio tumas. 

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