Last night New Zealand appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Council for its Universal Periodic Review of human rights. The UPR process examines our performance under all international human rights instruments. While New Zealand's is generally good, it identified a few areas where we can do better:
Member states of the United Nations have commended improvements to New Zealand's human rights record, but have expressed concern over levels of violence against women and children.
Some states recommended the Government develop a national strategy to prevent violence and abuse against children.
Some states also recommended New Zealand do more to minimise discrimination against Maori and other ethnic groups.
Meanwhile, its worth noting: in response to the 2009 UPR, the National government accepted recommendations to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and accept the individual complaints mechanism of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. We haven't. They agreed to several recommendations to protect the economic and social rights of Maori and Pacific Peoples, and to reduce institutional bias resulting in their over-representation in the criminal justice system - but they did nothing about either (and arguably, their employment relations and "tough on crime' policies have made things worse in both cases). National doesn't take this process seriously, and never has; the Minister they sent to represent us, Judith Collins, is the biggest eroder of human rights in recent memory. And this won't go unnoticed. Every time we break our word like this, the mana on which our foreign policy depends is eroded and undermined. And eventually, that is going to have consequences. After all, no-one likes dealing with a cheat - on human rights, or on trade.
We need to change this. Our government should have respect for human rights, not contempt for them. The present government doesn't, so its time to vote it out and replace it with one which properly represents our values.