The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat in partnership with the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and the Pacific Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) held a refresher workshop on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) with a mock session for the government delegation preparing to travel to Geneva to report on Vanuatu’s implementation progress of the CRPD.
“The CRPD provides the legal framework to which State Parties are assessed on their commitments to upholding, promoting, defending and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. It is one of the core human rights treaties and was open for signature and ratification in 2007. Like other core human rights treaties, State Parties must submit a periodic report a year or two after ratification and a periodic report between two to four years thereafter,” said Romulo Nayacalevu, the Program Manager for Governance and Legal Affairs at the MSG, who facilitated the two-day event.
In this CRPD mock, the government delegation was asked questions regarding the implementation of various Articles in the CRPD including issues of accessibility, non-discrimination, and reasonable accommodation. The delegation responded to these questions and provided updates on what the Government has done since ratifying the CRPD. Some of these positive acts include undertaking a comprehensive CRPD legislative compliance review in 2016, the moves to amend discriminatory laws against persons with disabilities, the formulation of national policies and frameworks including inclusive education and access to health care and various other initiatives relating to employment for persons with disabilities, their habilitation and rehabilitation, access to assistive devices and their participation in political and public life as well as cultural, recreation, leisure and sports among others.
In thanking the support provided by the three key regional organisations, the Director General of the Ministry of Justice, Mrs Dorosday Kenneth acknowledged the spirit of collaboration between the MSG Secretariat, OHCHR and SPC RRRT with the government and “that it was important that we continue to hold hands to advance the human rights work in Vanuatu.”
The support of the MSG Secretariat builds on from its earlier support to the Government of Vanuatu on the UPR as well as discussions around a national human rights action plan.
“The MSG Secretariat is well placed following its Organisational reform to provide targeted, technical and specialised support such as this training to our members. We are also delighted to have been requested by the Ministry of Justice of Vanuatu to facilitate this event in partnership with our friends from the Pacific Community’s human rights program (RRRT) and the UN’s Human Rights Office for the Pacific based in Suva (OHCHR),” said Ambassador Amena Yauvoli, the Director General of the MSG Secretariat.
“The MSG Secretariat will continue to positively respond to the requests of our member states especially as we support them in their development priorities, as well as supporting them in their key international legal obligations of reporting to treaty bodies, such as that required by the core human rights treaties” Ambassador Yauvoli added.
The two-day event was held in Port Vila and attended by both government representatives as well as members of Vanuatu’s disabled persons organisations (DPO) and it also provided the opportunity for DPO’s to discuss crucial issues with the government representatives present including directly with the Director General of the Ministry of Justice. Nellie Caleb, the National Coordinator of the Vanuatu Disability Promotion & Advocacy Association said that, the exercise was “really helpful and that it is good to have ongoing session where we can discuss on how to strengthen our coordination and collaboration with the government.”
Vanuatu is the first Pacific nation to ratify the CRPD, having signed the treaty on the year, the treaty was opened for signature in 2007 and then ratifying it, one year later in 2008. Vanuatu’s next periodic review would possibly be in 2023.