Poverty, inequality, and marginalisation continue to undermine the full realisation of human rights for all. Inequitable enjoyment of rights can stem from and leads to discrimination, poor health, limited economic empowerment opportunities, and violence. These are exacerbated disproportionately by crises such as COVID-19, climate change, and natural disasters. Ensuring inclusive development and equitable progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals remains a global challenge. It is imperative that development efforts prioritise human rights.
Aotearoa New Zealand has a strong history of protecting and promoting human rights both at home and internationally, including through advocacy and support to international human rights mechanisms. Human rights are a priority area for Aotearoa New Zealand’s foreign policy and development agendas, and play an important role in Aotearoa New Zealand’s vision and commitment to partnering for a long-term resilient and prosperous Pacific, and to building a safer, more prosperous and more sustainable future for New Zealanders and the world. In its international development cooperation, Aotearoa New Zealand seeks to contribute to the realisation of human rights for all through funding of initiatives that improve economic, social and cultural rights, such as access to health, education, clean water, food security, decent work, labour standards, and cultural identity and heritage, and civil and political rights, such as good governance, rule of law, and equitable political participation.
Aotearoa New Zealand’s Human Rights Strategic Action Plan for International Development Cooperation 2021 – 2025 was a priority deliverable for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in accordance with its Strategic Intentions. The Human Rights Strategic Action Plan sets out priorities for targeting and mainstreaming human rights within Aotearoa New Zealand’s international development cooperation programming, particularly focusing on people and groups most at risk of being left behind, and establishes the framework for Aotearoa New Zealand’s Human Rights Based Approach to development. The implementation of the Human Rights Strategic Action Plan will improve Aotearoa New Zealand’s capability for mainstreaming human rights through development programming, and deepen investment in human rights related impacts through targeted programming and enhanced reporting.
Claire Mahon is MFAT’s Senior Adviser for Inclusive Development – Human Rights. She presents the purpose, overarching goal, structure and content of the plan. This was followed by kōrero among participants.
Claire Mahon an international human rights specialist with over 20 years experience. She has been a human rights advocate, advisor and consultant with NGOs (including Amnesty International, ISHR, ICJ, Save the Children, and others), the UN and other multilaterals (OHCHR, UNDP, GAVI, World Bank, UNICEF), National Human Rights Institutions, governments, and world leaders, in over 30 countries. She has also worked in academia in the USA, Switzerland, UK and Australia, and as a corporate and community lawyer in Australia. Prior to joining MFAT in 2020, she spent 2 years doing community development work in her family’s hometown, Rotorua.