New Zealand Embassy Manila, The Philippines
Joint human rights project closes, work will continue
Closing ceremonies to mark the completion of the “Human Rights Community Development Programme”, a joint project of the Commission on Human Rights Philippines (CHRP) and the New Zealand Commission on Human Rights (NZHRC) were held at the CHRP offices on 21 March.
The project had its origins in 2007 when then-Philippine President Arroyo and then-New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark agreed that the human rights commissions of both countries should work together to strengthen human rights in the Philippines.
The resulting three-year project, funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme, focused on three predominantly indigenous communities. The human rights commissions worked closely with agencies of the state that most impact on the people in those communities, in particular the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
NZHRC Chief Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan spoke at the event, and was accompanied by Bill Hamilton and Jill Chrisp from the New Zealand project team.
She noted the progress made by the communities involved during the term of the project in terms of reduction in violence, improvement in economic opportunities and delivery of basic services. She also noted the importance of both human rights institutions being permitted to work independently.
CHRP Chairperson Loretta Rosales, who also attended the event, thanked her New Zealand counterpart and the New Zealand government for their support. She said the CHRP planned to expand the human rights community development approach to even more vulnerable communities. She acknowledged the commitment the Australian government had made to support the CHRP in continuing work in this area.
Her commission’s work in this regard would be strengthened as a result of the lessons learned from implementing the joint CHRP-NZHRC project.
New Zealand Chargé d’Affaires Andy White underscored the link between human rights and corruption, and noted that respect for human rights in New Zealand had played a key role in the relatively high level of development there. He also acknowledged the joint efforts of the New Zealand government agencies involved in the project’s implementation, including the New Zealand Defence Force and New Zealand Police.
Other attendees at the ceremony included members of the beneficiary communities, local government officials, the CHRP regional and field teams, civil society and the diplomatic community.