Refugees, US withdraws from human rights and new stats on the Pacific

Posted on 26 June 2018

+ A 'crime' to help refugees doesn't stop NGOs

Just after World Refugee Day, Hungary’s parliament passed a law that not only makes it almost impossible to seek asylum in Hungary, but also makes it a crime to help migrants and refugees.

"That means human rights workers and community volunteers could be prosecuted and jailed for up to a year for providing services, advice, or support to migrants and asylum seekers," says Todor Gados from Human Rights Watch.

Meanwhile Italy's new government says the Schengen border-free zone of travel in Europe is at risk, as the political ping pong about which country will accept the boats continues, leaving it to NGO ships to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean.

And Save the Children released a report showing there is a way to bring quality education to refugee children, now.

"More than half of the world’s refugee children – 3.7 million – don’t go to school. Having already lost their homes, they are now losing their education."

'Every minute, another twenty refugees are added to the list'. CID highlighted the statistics in a press release last week. “New Zealand spends only about 7% on humanitarian crises. We would like to see that increase to at least 11.5% which is the OECD average. That also means doing more to support the countries that are shouldering most of the refugee burden"
+ US withdraws from Human Rights Council 

President Trump's new executive order doesn't change anything for the over 2,300 children torn from their parents. Some won't be reunited, and "the order exchanges one harmful approach for another. Instead of forcibly separating families, it would detain families together indefinitely", says Michael Garcia Bochenek of Human Rights Watch.

Meanwhile, the US withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights CouncilThe council was established in 2006 to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights, which ran from 1947 to 2006. By the time of its demise, the commission was criticised from all sides for being overly politicised, writes the editor in 'The Conversation' this week.

"The US is correct that membership criteria should be revisited. Certain obstacles could be put in the way of the worst abusers, such as compulsory open slates, public voting (which might help prevent UK votes for Saudi Arabia), and a requirement that an eligible state must allow visits by all special rapporteurs."

And it can be argued, writes the Conversation, that there is a bias against Israel. "It has aimed a disproportionate number of resolutions against that country. The HRC’s regular agenda of ten items contains only one item that focuses on a particular state, that state being Israel." Meanwhile other human rights abusers, members like Venezuela, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Saudi Arabia don't get called up.

But if anyone is making the council political, its the US today. "The US is as political as other players on the HRC. Just as some states instinctively oppose Israel, the US instinctively supports it. Neither position is principled. The US has also protected other allies, such as Bahrain."

"The HRC is the peak global intergovernmental human rights body, which may represent the world of today, warts and all. The battle for universal human rights observance will not be won by adopting an “us and them” mentality, which excludes significant numbers of countries in the world from “the human rights club”. Such a solution is more likely to lead to balkanised human rights discussions, and possible competing institutions inside and outside the UN."

The Brookings Institute argues this is 'America going it alone'. And this
withdrawal allows China the space to dominate the council unchallenged and advance its agenda to redefine human rights after the 'China model.'

Under President Trump refugee numbers have dropped by 70%.  It is important to understand why hundreds of thousands of Central Americans leaving their homes, jobs and families for apparent safety in the United States.  A nation of immigrants podcast featuring White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough talks about the positives of welcoming refugees.  "There is no evidence that it’s meant an increase in terrorism. There’s no evidence that it’s meant an increase in crime. And in fact, I think there’s a lot of evidence to show that it’s meant an increase in opportunity—economic opportunity. So I think we’ve just got to use the data and make the arguments."

This opinion piece talks about Europe's reaction to the rift opening between Europe and America.  Instead of sanctioning hard working Americans, the author argues that targeting Trump’s companies might be a better option.
+  The Pacific is one of the most aid dependent regions in the world 

The Pacific islands including Oceania is one of the most aid dependent regions in the world. Official development assistance (ODA) is higher in the Pacific than in any other region on a per capita basis, and 10 Pacific island countries are among the 25 countries where ODA is highest as a proportion of national income, writes data cruncher Phil Nelson in his blog DataBeech. 
+  Physical and sexual violence in the Pacific

The Pacific region has some of the highest rates of violence against women and children in the world. Recent surveys show that two out of three women experience physical violence from an intimate partner or family member. Family violence is a significant barrier in the fight against poverty – it’s holding back full development for everyone.
World Vision New Zealand last week launched a new campaign to end violence against women and children in the Pacific. The campaign, "It takes a world to end violence against children", will seek to challenge the attitudes and behaviours that tolerate violence, and encourage all governments in the Pacific region to introduce strong laws and policies to prevent and respond to it.
World Vision “pledged to love” and increase the organisational support for the survivors of family violence in PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Timor-Leste. They also had three visitors from Papua New Guinea (they would prefer to remain anonymous for security reasons) who talked about their courageous  work as counsellors responding to family violence. These visitors were brought to New Zealand by ChildFund who partially fund the 1-Tok counselling hotline in PNG, and are supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme. See a one-page handout for these meetings attached.
If other organisations would like to join them in a joint effort to eliminate family violence in the Pacific, send an email here
+ Kiribati - for travellers not tourists

Kiribati is regularly listed as one of the least visited countries in the world. Most people have never heard of it and few people know how to pronounce it.

GOOD Travel therefore partnered with Family Planning and the Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA) to offer a Kiribati Discovery Tour. The tour is designed for travellers with an interest in learning more about innovative approaches to improving sexual and reproductive health in the Pacific. The participants on the trip are encouraged and supported with fundraising prior to traveling to Kiribati. Half of the funds raised will be donated directly to KFHA and half of the funds will be used by Family Planning on their work to improve sexual and reproductive health in the Pacific region.
+ Turning the page on remoteness in the Pacific

“We have no stronger opportunity for breakthroughs in all of the key areas economic social and environmental development than through digital technologies.”

At the recent Digital Pacific regional conference in Apia, Samoa (7–8 June), government delegates from Samoa and neighbouring states came together to discuss digital transformation with international expert-practitioners, academics, and private sector and NGO representatives.

Given their size, collaboration among Pacific Island States is fiscally sensible given the economies of scale, and could also enable a regional digital economy that would be benefited by common — or at least compatible — regulatory frameworks. Providing high-speed affordable and reliable connectivity requires regional collaboration. 

+ Review of 2005 Charities Act update
Some facts behind the review:
  •  27,000 registered charities in New Zealand
  • The 2005 Charities Act aimed to promote public trust and stakeholder confidence in the charitable sector (an aim analogous to that of CID’s Code of Conduct and compliance framework).
  • Over 10 years have passed since the first charity, the Te Aute Kokiri Foundation which supported emerging Māori leaders from Te Aute College, was registered under the 2005 Charities Act.
  • Changes since then: the introduction of financial reporting standards for registered charities; sector-wide changes to the operating environment (i.e. increasing pressure on a growing number of volunteers); and the replacement of the Charities Commission with the independent Charities Registration Board.
  • Aaron Davy (CID Code of Conduct & Standards Manager) is representing CID on the new Service Users Group (SUG).
  • A 3 person (with 2 reserves in support) Core Reference Group (CRG) is the sub-group of the SUG, and will work more closely with DIA between now and September.
The Government and the sector agreed that a review of the Charities Act was timely to ensure it is fit-for-purpose in the future not-for-profit environment. 
Key information, including the Terms of Reference for the review and a link to the Minister’s statement announcing the review are available on the Department of Internal Affairs website.  

This website will be updated as the  review progresses. Aaron is also contactable if you have any questions or wish to share any information which may potentially be shared in  review discussions.
+ The start of a new poverty narrative?

Two new storylines are emerging about extreme poverty

1. Extreme poverty is largely an African story:

"Nigeria has already overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extreme poor in early 2018, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo could soon take over the number 2 spot"

"Already, Africans account for about two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor. If current trends persist, they will account for nine-tenths by 2030. Fourteen out of 18 countries in the world—where the number of extreme poor is rising—are in Africa."

2. It's becoming increasingly difficult to achieve SDG1 (ending poverty)

"Between January 1, 2016—when implementation of the SDGs began —and July 2018, the world has seen about 83 million people escape extreme poverty. But if extreme poverty were to fall to zero by 2030, we should have already reduced the number by about 120 million, just assuming a linear trajectory. To get rid of this backlog of some 35 million people, we now have to rapidly step up the pace."

+ NIWA's climate tools manage risk in the Pacific

Recently CID's humanitarian network, the NGO Disaster Relief Forum (NDRF) met in Wellington and Doug Ramsay and Juli Ungaro from NIWA, NZ's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research came to talk about NIWA's work in the Pacific, focussing on disaster risk management, noting that "risk reduction underpins sustainable development".

One resource impressed everyone in the room  - the Island Climate Updates (monthly summaries of the climate in the tropical South Pacific islands, with an outlook for the coming months). These are being used to manage water resources and prepare for extreme weather events like floods and drought. NDRF members heard about the risk tool for resilience, Riskape that helps national disaster management teams make informed decisions about hazard mitigation based on evidence about potential impacts in communities. The tool is available to everyone to use, and you can also have a look at the full presentation.
+ Embedding staff in governments for green growth

For those of you who missed it, last week's CID Talk featured GGGI, The Global Green Growth Initiative. Dr Frank Rijsberman, Director General or GGGI and James Sheppard were in Auckland and Wellington, discussing  climate change, sustainable development and the quality of economic growth. 

GGGI is an international organisation that works with member governments on global green growth, and embeds its own staff in government departments in developing countries. Pacific countries like Kiribati have joined up and Australia is a founding member. New Zealand is considering joining up.

For a fuller explanation of how GGGI works to create a conducive policy environment and then implements pilot projects to attract finance for green growth initiatives to go to scale, please read a summary of the talk here. 

We see potential for partnerships with New Zealand's international NGOs supporting green energy programmes to work with GGGI. So get in touch with them! 


Humanitarian Pacific Islands Government