Monday, 26 September 2011 8:39 AM

Foreign Minister Presents Before UN Human Rights Council

Solomon Islands Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon. Peter Shanel Agovaka MP, has presented the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Solomon Islands before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday 21st September 2011.

The UPR is a mechanism of UNHRC which emerged out of the 2005 UN reform process that saw the replacement of the Geneva-based UN Commission on Human Rights with the HRC.

In total, 115 recommendations were put forward to Solomon Islands by distinguished member States of HRC during its Review Session on 4th May, 2011.

Solomon Islands supported 57 recommendations and took back 58 recommendations for further national consultations. The recommendations focused on relevant steps that should be taken to advance the rights of women, children and people with disabilities in Solomon Islands.

"Solomon Islands are deeply committed to international human rights standard and principles set out in UN Conventions and Treaties," said Hon. Agovaka.

"We have taken time to consult with relevant stakeholders in Solomon Islands, both from within and outside of government, to ensure that we accurately reflect their views on recommendations that Solomon Islands supports."

The Foreign Affairs Minister reported that although Solomon Islands fully supports a good majority of the Recommendations it cannot fully accept the Recommendation calling for change to its property and inheritance legal frameworks at this time.

"Most of the perceived inconsistencies with internationally accepted standards of property ownership and inheritance are due largely to long defined customary laws, which view land ownership and inheritance very differently," said Hon. Agovaka.

"To seek to change or amend the constitution to do away with such customary practices will require thorough nationwide consultation."

Hon. Agovaka also stated that Solomon Islands feel that it is also too early to discuss decriminalizing sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.

"Such an issue goes against our Christian beliefs and cultural outlooks so we do not support the Recommendation calling decriminalizing on sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex."

The Foreign Affairs Minister concluded by stating that the UPR consultation has given Solomon Islands a unique opportunity to enhance and promote active dialogue between government and civil society.

"We value the views from our civil society groups and we wish to acknowledge their invaluable input. We will continue to work hard to enhance this relationship."

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