Skip to main content

East West Center part of the Blue Pacific Alliance under PROJECT Governance

Submitted by Admin on Mon, 27/09/2021 - 15:18
Publish Published

About the East-West Center

The East-West Center(link is external) promotes better relations and understanding among the United States, Asia and the Pacific through collaborative study, research, and dialogue. Across Asia and the Pacific Islands, and at our campuses in Honolulu and Washington DC, the Center hosts conferences, exchanges, and in-depth trainings for policymakers, educators, cultural and civil-society leaders, and entrepreneurs. The Center conducts multidisciplinary research on environmental issues, public health, demography, economic policy and geopolitics, and provides graduate degree fellowships for the next generation of leaders. The Center also hosts the Pacific Islands Development Program(link is external)—the focal point of EWC programming for Pacific nations, and the seat of the secretariat of the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders.

EWC and PROJECT Governance

The East-West Center is proud to join SPC, IFES, and CARE as part of the Blue Pacific Alliance implementing PROJECT Governance. EWC will lead four mutually reinforcing activities focused on supporting financial-governance offices and officials across the region:

For more information about the East-West Center and PROJECT Governance, please contact us at [email protected].

Country Gender Assessment of Agriculture and the Rural Sector in Fiji

Country Gender Assessment of Agriculture and the Rural Sector in Fiji

Call for applications - Regional Youth and CSO Dialogue 23-27 June 2014

Submitted by Admin on Thu, 22/05/2014 - 15:54
Publish Published

A coalition of regional partners, including the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT), UNDP Pacific Centre, Pacific Youth Council and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) will be convening a Youth and civil society dialogue to be held from the 23-27th of June in Nadi, Fiji.

SPC RRRT is pleased to invite one representative from Civil Society and one youth representative from each of the following Pacific Island Countries: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu

Download the conference announcement below for further details and the application form if you are interested to represent your country. Email us your completed form as soon as possible.


Pacific representatives meet to develop campaigns to address violence against women

Submitted by Admin on Wed, 14/08/2013 - 08:59
Publish Published

Tuesday 13 August 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji

Twenty-six representatives from government as well as non-governmental organisations in six Pacific Island countries are in Suva this week for a five-day regional workshop to develop concrete action plans to address high rates of violence against women in the region.

The workshop organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT) in partnership with the UN Women Fiji Multi-country Office is part of the support provided to Pacific organisations that are recipients of grants from the UN Women Pacific Regional Facility Fund to Eliminate Violence against Women.

Speaking at the opening of the consultation, guest speaker Maha Muna, Gender Adviser with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Suva called on participants to remember youth in their campaigns and to ensure that interventions also focus on empowering young people as a vital way forward in ending the intergenerational cycle of violence in homes and communities in the region.

‘Today, in the spirit of International Youth Day, let us recommit to removing the scourge of violence from the lives of Pacific women and young people,’ she said.

In highlighting examples of the high prevalence of violence amongst young people in the region, Ms Muna spoke of the findings of a 2010 United Nations Children’s Fund study, Understanding HIV and AIDS. The study reported that 38% of sexually active youth in Solomon Islands had experienced forced sex, with 20% reporting their first sexual encounter as forced. In Vanuatu, the study reported that 45% had experienced forced sex, with 36% reporting that their first sexual encounter had been forced, and in Kiribati, it reported that 43% of sexually active youth had experienced forced sex, with ongoing vulnerability for 79%, and that for 21% their first sexual encounter was forced.

Ms Muna also reaffirmed the findings of Family Health and Safety Studies in the region, supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and UNFPA in collaboration with SPC and national bureaus of statistics, which demonstrated high prevalence of violence against women in the Pacific, particularly in the context of intimate relationships. The recent research shows that 68% of ever-partnered women between the ages of 15 and 49 in Kiribati have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner. The rates are 64% in Solomon Islands and 46% in Samoa.

‘Breaking the cycle of violence in the region is a big challenge. Your country advocacy and action plans must focus on how you can engage in changing hearts and minds, behaviours and attitudes, along with services, policies and laws,’ Ms Muna said.

Activities on the agenda for this week’s consultation include reviewing national country strategies and advocacy initiatives in addressing violence against women, enhancing capacities of the participants to effectively challenge discriminatory laws and practices in countries using a human rights based approach and developing two-year advocacy and action plans to address gender based violence in the countries.

Participants are government and civil society stakeholders from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. This consultation and work to support legislative change in addressing violence against women is supported by UN Women and AusAID.

For more information, please contact Jilda Shem, SPC RRRT Communications Officer on +679 330 5994 or email [email protected] or Olivia Owen, Inter-Agency Initiatives Coordinator on +679 330 1178 or email [email protected].

SPC recognises Pacific organisations and individuals with Human Rights Awards

Submitted by Admin on Fri, 12/04/2013 - 09:59
Publish Published

Joshko Wakaniyasi of IDEA – a programme advocating for jobs for persons with disabilities in mainstream employment in Fiji – will be a recipient of a 2013 Pacific Human Rights Award

Four organisations and two individuals from the region will be honoured with Pacific Human Rights Awards today.

The courageous and innovative individuals and organisations whose stories have been documented in various forms for this year’s theme – human rights in everyday Pacific life – will receive their awards at a ceremony at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, FBE conference room from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

This year’s awardees include Joshko Wakaniyasi, Director of Fiji’s Spinal Injury Association; Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC); the Rainbow Theatre Group of Vanuatu; Teta Etau of Kiribati’s School for Disabled; Chelcia Gomese; and Rowena Wemahanua of Solomon Islands.

An excited Joshko Wakaniyasi, who will be receiving the award for outstanding contribution to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities to employment in Fiji through the IDEA Programme (Include Disability Employ this Ability), is ever grateful to the Regional Rights Resource Team of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community for the recognition of their work in Fiji.

'The award will greatly benefit the Spinal Injury Association and its members. It will go a long way towards making visible our achievements and services in Fiji and it will give confidence to donors and open up the door for other opportunities,' Mr Wakaniyasi said.

Since taking the reigns of the Spinal Injury Association in 2007, Joshko Wakaniyasi transformed a struggling, cash-strapped organisation into an efficient provider of crucial medical supplies, equipment and support services for its members. His amiable yet determined approach when negotiating with private sponsors, donors and overseas charities has secured the delivery of seven shipments of wheelchairs, crutches, walking frames, toilet and shower chairs and other aids to support people with disabilities and their carers in Fiji.

The Pacific Human Rights Awards are presented biennially to reward and celebrate outstanding work in human rights in the region and are an opportunity not only to give public recognition to the achievements of the recipients, but also to send a clear message to human rights defenders region wide that the Pacific community is grateful for, and supports, their tireless efforts to promote human rights for all.

The awards are open to all Pacific Island nationals who have demonstrated a high degree of commitment to social justice and human rights, as well as having made significant contributions to human rights promotion or protection in their countries or the region through an extended period of dedicated work (paid or voluntary).

In 1998, SPC RRRT won the prestigious UNICEF Maurice Pate Award for its pioneering work in promoting human rights education for women and children in the Pacific. Since then, SPC RRRT has been offering the Pacific Human Rights Awards to encourage the development of a human rights culture that will protect the rights and promote the well-being of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.

The Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) is a programme under the Education, Training and Human Development Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).  RRRT provides training, technical support, policy and advocacy advice in human rights to promote social justice and good governance throughout the Pacific region.  RRRT receives core support from Australian Aid and additional project support from UN Women and other donor partners.

The 2013 awards include;

IDEA (Include Disability Employ this Ability) Program, Fiji

Outstanding contribution to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities through the IDEA Program in Fiji

APTC Australia-Pacific Technical College

Outstanding contribution to advancing the rights to housing and employment on Upolu Island, Samoa, after Cyclone Evan in 2012

Rainbow Theatre Group, Vanuatu

Outstanding contribution to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in Vanuatu through theatre

Kiribati School for the Disabled

Outstanding contribution to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities at the School for the Disabled in Kiribati

Chelcia Gomese of Solomon Islands

Special recognition for highlighting the right to education through creative writing

Rowena Wemahanua of Solomon Islands

Special recognition for highlighting human rights through creative drawing

For more information, please contact Jilda Shem, SPC RRRT Communications Officer on +679 330 5994 or email [email protected]

Pacific human rights trainers trained to higher standards

Submitted by Admin on Tue, 12/02/2013 - 11:38
Publish Published

Tuesday 12 February 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji –

Fifteen human rights trainers from the Pacific region have graduated with greater capacity in imparting knowledge and skills through professional training after an intensive two week training course conducted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC-RRRT) in Suva, Fiji.

The training of trainers (ToT) course, facilitated by Trevor Kliese from Training Australia Unlimited, was an empowering experience, as the trainers increased their training skills in line with international standards. The ToT programme will assist not only trainers, but all others working in the area of capacity building, where the transfer of knowledge, skills and information is critical. This training was unique in that the skills component was complemented by the use of human rights topics.

The RRRT trainers who graduated from the course provide human rights training for government departments and civil society organisations throughout the Pacific region. This ToT training provides graduates with enhanced skills and techniques, leading to improved services and outcomes in SPC member countries.

'I now have a better perspective on how to conduct this training and I feel better equipped than before to perform as a Senior Trainer,' said Lionel Aingimea, SPC-RRRT's Senior Legal Trainer.

Matakina Simii, a disability advocate in Tuvalu, is optimistic that she will put the knowledge she acquired from the ToT training to good use. One of her first priorities when she returns home will be to advocate through her training for the ratification of the Convention for the Rights of People with Disability, so that more children with disability can access education.

Commenting on the course, RRRT Country Focal Officer in Kiribati, Amberoti Nikora, who was previously a Member of Parliament in Kiribati, said he would have done better as a human rights advocate in Parliament if he had received this training during his time as MP.

'However, with the knowledge acquired from the training, I am in a strong position still and empowered to conduct training and work with MPs to support human rights in my country,' Nikora said.

Lepolo Taunila, RRRT Country Focal Officer in Tonga and a former Tongan Member of Parliament, expressed a similar sentiment, saying that the training has taught her the importance of good training preparation, sourcing the right facts to support her training and understanding adult learning principles in order to tailor training to meet the needs of her learners.

'It has been a very helpful training for me and I look forward to going back as a more effective trainer. As soon as I get back, I will be working on a training request from the government and another from the NGO sector and this ToT training has just prepared me well to take them on without hesitation,' She added.

As part of the training, the recipients discussed contemporary human rights issues affecting Pacific Island nations, including violence against women, children's rights to education and health services, refugee rights, corruption and media freedom.

The ToT course was conducted from January 28 to February 8 and included participants from Fiji, Nauru, Tuvalu, Tonga, Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia. The training was generously supported by AusAID.

For more information, please contact Jilda Shem, SPC-RRRT Communications Officer on +679 330 5994 or email [email protected]

The Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) is a programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and provides training, technical support, and policy and advocacy services tailored specifically for the Pacific region. Based in Suva, Fiji, RRRT has programmes across the Pacific Islands, with partners including governments, regional and civil society organisations

Visit the SPC website:

Sub-Regional ‘writeshop’ accelerates HIV Law reform in the Pacific

Submitted by Admin on Mon, 12/09/2011 - 14:11
Publish Published


High Level representatives from the Justice, Health and Civil Society Organizations from Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu gather in Nadi to share their experience on human rights compliant HIV Policies and Laws.

The 3 days 'writeshop' (11-14 September, 2011) is organized by a partnership between the UNDP, UNAIDS, PIAF (Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation) and the Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC/RRRT).

The objective of the workshop is to provide support and technical assistance that is required to advance human rights compliant HIV legislative change by analysing the current legislative status per country, providing various models of legislative reform, looking at the rationale for human rights compliant legislative responses to address the spread of HIV and writing a policy papers to step up progress to legislative reform.

While most HIV interventions target individual behavioral change, it is equally important, if not more, that the norms and structures that shape these behaviours are addressed. There is extensive and longstanding evidence that strategic structural investments can contribute to 'break through' progress.

It is expected that the delegates will leave the 'writeshop' with a strategic plan to implement the policy framework which will work towards guiding the respective countries in their response to HIV.

Garry Wiseman, Manager of UNDP Pacific Centre in his opening remarks highlighted that "...some countries in the region have already passed human rights-based legislation to better address HIV and AIDS: PNG, FSM and more recently Fiji. Others are in the process to start drafting new HIV laws such as Tuvalu and Cook Islands; and some are starting to develop new policy framework to do. This week will be an opportunity to share lessons learned and help each other."

The event represents an opportunity for intra-regional cooperation on these issues and uses an interactive format to ensure countries gain maximum benefit from experience sharing.

Ruby Awa from SPC/RRRT commented that "...this is great, it will allow those countries who are still working on having a HIV legislation share their progress and pick up pointers from those who already have HIV legislation in place."

The event includes the participation of people living with HIV who are taking an active role in the policy dialogue.

"We do not just need representatives, we are present and must take an active part of the dialogue and the policy and law making to address HIV, this is what Meaningful Involvement of People living with HIV means," Temo Sasau, Fijian AIDS Ambassador in his address.

For further information contact: Ferdinand Strobel, email: [email protected] or Mahezabeen Khan, email: [email protected].

Pacific laws on violence do not protect women: Jalal

Submitted by Admin on Wed, 11/03/2009 - 18:00
Publish Published

Tuesday 11 March 2009, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, New York

Pacific laws on violence against women (VAW) are outdated and treat women with indifference despite the globally high rates of VAW in the Pacific region.

Pacific Island governments need to make a concerted effort to review this legislation so that laws can better protect women.

Secretariat of the Pacific Community/Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC/RRRT) Gender and Human Rights Advisor, Imrana Jalal, made the comments whilst addressing members of the Pacific Islands Forum who attended the 53rd United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) held recently in New York.

Pacific representatives from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, as well as Australia and New Zealand attended the meeting.

Jalal told those Pacific government representatives that only a handful of Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) had made some progress.

"Only Papua New Guinea (PNG), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and more recently, Vanuatu, had made any progress in changing outdated and discriminatory laws and interpretations. PNG and RMI had made changes to sexual assault laws but not domestic violence and family law, whilst Vanuatu had addressed the issue of domestic violence."

Jalal said Fiji had addressed some elements of domestic violence in its family law but had not touched sexual violence or domestic violence in its criminal or civil codes. Despite being the first country in the region to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, Samoa had not passed any legislation addressing any area of women's rights, since ratification.

Jalal was at the UNCSW as chair of the high-level UN Expert Group on Best Practices in Violence against Women Legislation. The panel advises the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on best practices from around the globe in terms of laws which relate to violence against women (VAW).

She told the PICT government representatives that SPC/RRRT had won a substantial grant from the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Trust Fund. SPC/RRRT had to compete with 1027 applicants worldwide for the grant.

The grant, worth USD 720,000 provides SPC/RRRT with some resources to work with PICT governments and non-government organisations to help reform laws which relate to VAW. SPC/RRRT was the only Pacific organisation to win one of the 28 grants available.

Jalal said the grant focused on addressing the issue of legislation specifically, and SPC/RRRT's effort is meant to build on the groundwork already laid by organisations such the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre (FWCC) Pacific Women's Network on VAW.

"NGO partnership is critical otherwise the effort would fail. In most PICTs the best legislation was driven by NGOs dedicated to its passing."

The UNIFEM Trust Fund Pacific project ties in with the expert group's findings on best practices globally. Jalal said the best VAW laws emanated from the developing world, not the developed world, citing Mexico, Albania and India as examples.

Jalal said that compared to global standards, Vanuatu's new domestic violence law is also 'pretty decent legislation', although it is far from perfect. She said there were no perfect laws in the arena of human relationships.

Jalal said that the goal of the SPC/RRRT UNIFEM Trust Fund project was 'changing laws protecting women and lobbying for legislative change in violence against women and family law in order to enhance protective legislation for women and girls in six PICTs'.

Initially, SPC/RRRT will begin the legislative reforms with the governments of Cook Islands, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Samoa.

'The project recognises that laws are not the be all and end all, but can be an effective catalyst of social change as well.'

Jalal said that there was no need to re-invent the wheel as the UN Expert Group on Best Practices in VAW Legislation had come up with a compilation of best practices from around the globe which could be adapted to suit the Pacific context.

Whilst in New York Jalal made four presentations at various CSW panels as Chair of the UN Expert Group on Best Practices in VAW Legislation and also a half-hour video on VAW legislation for the UN's Division for the Advancement of Women (UNDAW). The video will be available on UNDAW's website shortly.

For more information, contact Sandra Bernklau, Programme Manager SPC/RRRT +(679) 3305 582 or email: [email protected]

Background: The Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), which is a programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), works with partners in nine focus countries (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa,Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru and Vanuatu) to offer training and expert advice on the development of human rights advocacy, lobbying, mobilisation strategies and the drafting of national human rights legislation. The team provides human rights training, technical support, and policy and advocacy services tailored specifically for the Pacific region. Its mission is to seek a Pacific region that is respected for the quality of its governance, the sustainable management of its resources, the full observance of democratic values and for its defence and promotion of human rights.

A Pacific view on gender equality and family law

Submitted by Admin on Wed, 18/02/2009 - 21:39
Publish Published

18 February 2009, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

They came in all colours, shapes and sizes, and in all manner of dress, both traditional and modern, veiled and unveiled, religious and non-religious, to begin a global campaign called Musawah.

Organised by the Malaysian Muslim feminist organisation, Sisters in Islam (SIS), Musawah, which means 'equality' in Arabic, brought together Muslim feminists, women's rights and human rights activists and lawyers to debate and discuss justice and equality in the family law of Islam.

Gender and Human Rights Advisor, Imrana Jalal, from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT/SPC), was one of the panel of speakers at the 250-strong gathering at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which included the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Yakin Ertürk, who was the keynote speaker.

Jalal, who was invited as an expert in legislative change, led two sessions on changing family laws in environments unfavourable to gender equality. She said the Musawah movement was only at its beginning but would soon be a strong global force.

"Gender equality and human rights is not inconsistent with Islam so the liberation of women is entirely possible within a religious context," Jalal said.

Musawah will span 50 countries with the goal of reforming family laws in a Muslim context. It works on the premise that gender equality and human rights is consistent with Islamic doctrine. The movement calls for equality, non-discrimination, justice and dignity as the basis of all human relations; full and equal citizenship for every individual; and marriage and family relations based on principles of equality and justice.

Musawah is based on the principle that equality in the family is possible through a framework that is consistent with Islamic teachings, universal human rights principles, fundamental rights guarantees, and the lived realities of women and men.

Jalal shared the strategies she had learned in the passing of the Family Law Act in Fiji.

She told the BBC that although Fiji was a small country with a Muslim minority and without a parallel religious legal system, the lessons learnt on passing good legislation could be adapted and transferred to other parts of the globe.

RRRT works with partners in 9 focus countries; Cook Islands, Fiji , Kiribati , Samoa , Solomon Islands , Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru and Vanuatu, by offering training packages and expert advice to partners which aids in the development of human rights advocacy, lobbying, mobilisation strategies and the drafting of national human rights legislation. RRRT provides human rights training, technical support, and policy and advocacy services tailored specifically for the Pacific region and with a mission to "seek a Pacific region that is respected for the quality of its governance, the sustainable management of its resources, the full observance of democratic values and for its defence and promotion of human rights".

For more information, please contact Sandra Bernklau, SPC RRRT Programme Manager (+679) 3305582 or email: [email protected].

Subscribe to Fiji