United Nations review of NZ human rights makes more than 30 recommendations on violence

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The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council reviewed New Zealand's human rights record on 21 January 2019.

This was the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of New Zealand by the Human Rights Council. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process of the Council to review the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States once every five years. New Zealand's previous review was completed in 2014.

From New Zealand the process is led by the Ministry of Justice and the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  

The review considered the previous cycle of recommendations and New Zealand's response to those recommendations in 2014, plus:

Individual stakeholder reports can be found on the New Zealand Human Rights Commission website, including reports from Women's Refuge, the Backbone Collective and many others. 

A Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: New Zealand has been presented and adopted. This draft report sets out the recommendations made by the other Member States. Of the 194 recommendations, more than 30 related to violence against women, sexual violence, family and domestic violence or child abuse. Among these recommendations, there were consistent themes calling on New Zealand to:

  • continue efforts to address violence against women including sexual and domestic violence
  • develop a comprehensive national strategy to combat gender based violence including sexual and family violence
  • strengthen efforts to address violence against women and girls among minority communities, particularly Māori and Pasifika
  • continue efforts to address child wellbeing including addressing child abuse and child poverty.

Other recommendations addressed a number of other human rights areas including the rights of people with disabilities, discrimination based on gender identity and intersex status, and discrimination and inequalities for Māori, Pasifika and migrant communities.

At the Human Rights Council session in June 2019, the report will be officially adopted and New Zealand’s final position on the recommendations will be recorded.

Justice Minister Andrew Little led New Zealand's delegation to UN Human Rights Review. In his speech to the Council, issues Andrew Little discussed were:

  • "issues facing Māori, and how we are addressing social differences for, and discrimination against, the Māori population
  • how we are working to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families
  • our justice system and the challenges we face with high levels of incarceration
  • how we are addressing our high levels of family violence, and
  • issues facing women in New Zealand."

In speaking about family violence, Minister Little said:

"One in three women in New Zealand experience physical, emotional or sexual violence from a partner in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely to suffer partner abuse than men. Māori women, queer women, trans women, women living with a disability and young women experience more violence, and are more likely to be re-victimised by current systems. This Government is determined to ensure that New Zealanders can live free from violence. Our system is failing New Zealand women, girls and families. We need to transform our system by focusing on prevention, early intervention, integrated responses and new approaches to service delivery."

Related media

Andrew Little to UN: New Zealand is failing women and our justice system is broken, Stuff, 22.01.2019

NZ told to improve human rights of LGBTQI people, Radio NZ, 22.01.2019

Maori law academic applauds Justice Minister’s admission, Te Karere, 22.01.2019

Maori in prison: Justice campaigner pushes for target strategy, Radio NZ, 22.01.2019

'Work to do' on human rights, violence in NZ - Little, Radio NZ, 22.01.2019

NZ human rights to come under scrutiny from UN, Radio NZ, 19.01.2019 

New Zealand’s human rights record to be reviewed by Universal Periodic Review, United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, 16.01.2019