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Prime Minister Bainimarama Links Prosperity To Human Rights

Mr Bainimarama says Fijian Constitution recognises symbiotic relationship between civil, political and socio-economic rights
27 Feb 2019 11:19
Prime Minister Bainimarama Links Prosperity To Human Rights
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in Geneva with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne. Photo: DEPTFO News

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says without prosperity, any serious effort to promote human rights will fail.

He said: “It will end before it can even begin.”

Mr Bainimarama made the remarks when he addressed the 40th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday night. He said the Fijian Constitution recognised the symbiotic relationship between civil, political and socio-economic rights, enshrining historic socioeconomic guarantees for our people.

He said: “We’re giving life

to that recognition through a nationwide effort and appeal to the realisation of socio-economic rights, in a very practical manner.”

Mr Bainimarama said the Fijian Government had poured additional funding into education, healthcare, equal justice, adequate food, clean water, decent housing for human progress and dignity.

Fiji is the first Pacific island nation to be a member of the council. It also holds the vice-president role.

Mr Bainimarama said the protection of human rights and the implementation of our sustainable development goals were more than a question of commitment.

“Often, it is question of resources. The priorities for nations where people are dying from malnutrition vary dramatically from that of an industrial power,” he said.

“Often still, nations face existential threats that make proper planning for the future next to impossible.

“There is no existential threat more grave or severe than that of climate change. I lead a nation on the frontlines of the rising seas, severe weather and changing weather patterns brought about global warming.

“Whether it is worsening cyclones devastating Fijians and other oceanic peoples, the disappearing coastlines of Bangladesh, the scorching heat drying out land across sub-Saharan Africa, or the

worsening flooding in low-lying cities in the United States, the impacts of climate change have proven themselves as the single greatest threat to the basic rights of all people.”

He said Fiji had the privilege of leading the world in the UN climate negotiations, as president of COP23.

He said Fiji would plan to imbue its membership to this council with the passion and legacy of our climate action leadership.

He said “it is for this reason that we have pledged to champion global recognition of the universal right to a safe and healthy environment.”

He said he acknowledged and appreciated the rights-based approach endorsed by this body, “which considers the impact on migration,

internal displacement, women and other vulnerable groups.”

He said many of the most vulnerable countries were not the major contributors to the harmful emissions warming our planet, yet they found themselves facing the greatest existential threat.

Even in a best-case scenario for climate action, he said those impacts going to grow much more serious before they ever start getting better.

He said in a worst-case scenario, they would grow to a scale that was beyond any nation’s ability to address.

“We cannot allow that future to come to pass, or the right to life, for countless vulnerable people, will be irreparably stripped away,” Mr Bainimarama said.

He urged the nations represented on the council, as well as all nations on earth, to not only honour their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change, but to raise the ambition of those commitments, in pursuit of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

He also urged greater access to financial resources to fund vital work to adapt vulnerable economies to the cyclones, the rising sea levels and the other climatic impacts that already posed grave risks to progress, development and human rights the world over.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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