Sunday, August 19, 2007

An adverse report

New Zealand went before the UN Human Rights Commission's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination earlier this month to make its periodic report on discrimination in New Zealand, as required by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Today, the CERD reported back. The actual report isn't online yet (it will go up here), but the Human Rights Commission has a summary, and it doesn't sound good. While the Committee was pleased with our progress in a number of areas (including the improved status of te reo), it expressed concern about far more, including the overrepresentation of Maori in crime statistics, the lack of information being collected on racially motivated crime, and the lack of constitutional recognition for the Treaty. It's particularly concerned about the continuing detention of refugees (a practice it wants to see ended altogether), and of the potential for the 2008 deadline on Treaty claims to unfairly bar legitimate claims. Worse, it wants us to report back in a year on four areas:

  • the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion Bill, currently before Parliament;
  • the lack of references to the Treaty of Waitangi in the school curriculum;
  • restricted access for "undocumented" children to the educational system;
  • the foreshore and seabed.
In other words, we have failed to meet international standards in these areas (particularly over the foreshore and seabed), and so they're giving us a year to clean our act up. Hopefully the government will take this opportunity - but looking at their reaction to the report of UN Special Rapporteur Rodolfo Stavenhagen, its more likely that they'll engage in puerile nationalistic chestbeating instead.