Increasing Awareness of Human Rights Remains Vital in Bougainville

Buka – Improving knowledge and awareness of human rights remains vitally important across the Autonomous Region of Bougainville to ensure that a free, fair, transparent and violence-free referendum takes place.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) via the Gender and Youth Promotion Initiative (GYPI) is assisting in this regard, staging their first Human Rights Sensitisation Training in Buka recently.

18 Women Human Rights Defenders and 15 Male Advocates, many of these drawn from minority groups, attended the one-day training session with participants now skilled with a better understanding of the principles of human rights and the confidence to implement these principles within their own communities.

The training also allowed for participants to discuss some of the challenges they currently face within their own communities, as well as looking at what resources are currently available at present and what more needs to be done moving forward to ensure that human rights are a cornerstone of community life.

Women Human Rights Defenders and Male Advocates play many roles within each of their respective communities taking on board the role of counsellor, educator and activist among many others.

Surya Deuja, Human Rights Expert with OHCHR, said that thanks to the training participants now have an action plan for the coming months as we move closer to the referendum target date.

“The action plan will allow for defenders and advocates from all across Bougainville to better share knowledge and experiences, while at the same time ensuring they continue to work with the Department of Community Government to see the principles of human rights adhered to at the community level,” Mr Deuja said.

Women Human Rights Defender Agnes Titus commented that the upcoming referendum was a fundamental expression of human rights.

“Using our right to make a choice, this is the ultimate realisation of one’s human rights. We may all play different roles but for us to come together at a training event such as this we leave with a new set of skills in regard to better understanding human rights and how we can work together to further these within our own communities,” Ms Titus said.

This training was staged with thanks to support from the UN Peacebuilding Fund, with the GYPI focusing on the empowerment of disenfranchised groups in Bougainville, mainly women and youth, and persons with disabilities.

Media Contact:

Nicholas Turner – Communications Specialist (Buka)

+675 7003 9252

nicholas.turner@undp.org