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Fiji Report Tabled at Human Rights Council


The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, Mr Mutuma Ruteere, delivered his Report on his visit to Fiji from 7 -12 December 2016, at the 35th session of the Human Rights Council today.

At the outset, the Special Rapporteur thanked the Fijian Government in accepting his request to visit Fiji.

The Report highlighted among other things, Fiji’s legal and institutional framework to combat racism as well as different policies and initiatives undertaken by the Fijian Government, against racism and xenophobia.

The Report also analysed the main challenges in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including the relationship between the different communities, the issue of land ownership, the absence of disaggregated data and how to balance freedom of expression and protection against hate speech.

In response to the Report of the Special Rapporteur, Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Nazhat Shameem Khan highlighted that Fiji welcomed the visit of the Special Rapporteur and his constructive report, and advised the Human Rights Council of Fiji’s commitment at its Universal Periodic Review, to welcoming Special Mandate Holders, and that Fiji has kept true to its word.

Ambassador Khan further highlighted that the visit of the Special Rapporteur allowed for an objective assessment of standards after the Fijian Government had set in place strong measures to remove racism from government institutions and social policies.

The visit also commenced an intelligent and informed dialogue within Fiji itself, about the sorts of policies which would enable an ethnically equal society in which diversity is welcomed and unity is promoted.

Ambassador Khan reiterated Fiji’s belief in inclusivity and unity and thanked the Special Rapporteur his constructive report.



Statement by the Fijian Prime Minister and incoming President of COP23


The decision by the Trump Administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change is deeply disappointing, especially for the citizens of vulnerable nations throughout the world.

It is also a grave disappointment for millions of people living in those areas of the United States that are threatened by the effects of climate change, whether it is the flooding that threatens cities like New York and Miami, or the periods of drought and deluge that have plagued California and other states, or the temperature rise that is affecting cities, wildlife and natural areas across the United States.

As incoming President of COP23, I did what I could - along with many leaders around the world - to try to persuade President Trump to remain standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us as, together, we tackle the greatest challenge our planet has ever faced. While the loss of America’s leadership is unfortunate, this is a struggle that is far from over.

That is because the world has reached the consensus that all nations must meet this challenge together, and we need not forgo economic growth to do so. On the contrary, solving the climate crisis through cooperation, innovation, new technologies and improved access to capital around the world will create real, sustainable economic growth for those who have the vision to make this moment of challenge a moment of opportunity.

The rest of the world remains fully committed to the implementation of the Paris Agreement. I am especially encouraged by the commitment being shown by China, India, the European Union, Canada, Mexico and the vast majority of other nations. They will continue to lead this process, with or without the support of the Trump Administration, but with the knowledge and assurance that many ordinary Americans support participation in the Paris Agreement, and that many American states, cities and businesses will continue to pursue the ambitious climate action the Agreement entails.

As incoming COP President, I reaffirm that I will do everything possible to continue to forge a grand coalition that will accelerate the momentum that has continued since the Paris Agreement, embracing governments, civil society, the private sector and millions of ordinary men and women around the world. I am also convinced that the United States Government will eventually rejoin our struggle because the scientific evidence of man-made climate change is well understood. The issue is settled, and the impacts are obvious, and humankind ignores these facts at its peril.

Fiji Outlines Vision for COP 23 Presidency


170522 hendricks petersberg 11Fiji’s formal vision for its presidency of COP23 - the ongoing UN climate negotiations - has been unveiled in a speech in Bonn, Germany, to representatives of almost 200 countries by the Prime Minister and incoming COP president, Frank Bainimarama.

The Prime Minister described it as a vision that is inclusive and very much focuses on maintaining the momentum for the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. It also accelerates climate action for all vulnerable societies, drawing on Fiji’s own experiences as a Small Island Developing State in the Pacific.

The formal text is as follows:

“Acknowledging the important leadership roles of past COP Presidencies in laying the foundation for a robust COP23, Fiji's vision for COP23 is:

To advance the work of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and preserve the multilateral consensus for decisive action to address the underlying causes of climate change, respecting climate science.

To uphold and advance the Paris Agreement, ensure progress on the implementation guidelines and undertake consultations together with the Moroccan COP22 Presidency to design the process for the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018.

To build greater resilience for all vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events and rising sea levels; to enable access to climate adaptation finance, renewable energy, clean water and affordable climate risk and disaster insurance; and to promote sustainable agriculture.

To forge a grand coalition to accelerate climate action before 2020 and beyond between civil society, the scientific community, the private sector and all levels of government, including cities and regions. I repeat: We are all vulnerable and we all need to act.

To harness innovation, enterprise and investment to fast track the development and deployment of climate solutions that will build future economies with net zero greenhouse gas emissions, in an effort to limit the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

To draw a stronger link between the health of the world’s oceans and seas and the impacts of, and solutions to, climate change as part of a holistic approach to the protection of our planet.

To infuse COP23 with the Fijian “Bula Spirit” of inclusiveness, friendliness and solidarity and promote the Pacific concept of talanoa. This is a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue that builds empathy and leads to decision making for the collective good. It is not about finger pointing and laying blame but is about listening to each other, learning from each other, sharing stories, skills and experiences. By focusing on the benefits of action, this process will move the global climate agenda forward.”

The Prime Minister said that while his role as COP president was to be impartial and act in the collective interests of all nations, he would certainly bring his own perspective to the negotiations in Bonn in November.

“It is that of a Fijian, a Pacific Islander, who comes from a region of the world that is bearing the brunt of climate change. Whether it is the rising seas, extreme weather events or changes to agriculture, that threaten our way of life and in some cases, our very existence”.

“We who are most vulnerable must be heard, whether we come from the Pacific or other Small Island Developing States, other low lying nations and states or threatened cities in the developed world like Miami, New York, Venice or Rotterdam. But together we must speak out for the whole world - every global citizen - because no-one, no matter who they are or where they live, will ultimately escape the impact of climate change,” the Prime Minister said.

Fiji will Defend and Preserve the Multilateral Consensus on Climate Change


The Chief Negotiator for the Fijian COP23 Presidency, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, has reiterated Prime Minister Bainimarama’s recent call for preserving the multilateral consensus for decisive climate action contained in the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The Ambassador was speaking to a gathering of global media at the latest round of UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany, where for the next two weeks nearly 200 nations are gathered to develop the guidelines needed to fully implement the landmark 2015 Agreement.

Asked about the current political environment, Ambassador Khan stressed that Fiji believes in multilateralism. “We believe it is a process that works because it is inclusive and universal. So irrespective of the position of particular countries, we believe it is very important to move the global climate change agenda forward,” she said. 

The incoming Presidency's COP23 Negotiator also explained that Fiji brings a “special awareness and consciousness” of the effects of climate change to the negotiating process, and that this in turn adds a sense of urgency that will help drive the negotiations forward.

“I think the imperative for a Small Island Developing State like Fiji is very clear when you consider our special vulnerability to climate change. We are here obviously to work very hard to ensure there is a solution for the entire world. But at the same time we believe that our special vulnerability and our experiences will give the negotiations a sensitivity to the urgency of the situation and an understanding of how climate change effects people.”

The Ambassador explained the Presidency’s job at the May meetings is to advance the implementation guidelines – known by some as the Rulebook – and lay the foundation for a more ambitious climate action in the years to come through the Facilitative Dialogue. To accomplish this, she said that Fiji would be introducing the concept of Talanoa to its consultations with parties and other stakeholders.

“Talanoa means that you sit together, you share experiences, you respect each other in the expression of different opinions, you build relationships, you settle difficulties and disputes, and during all of this you gather information. So we want to use this concept of Talanoa to listen and learn over the next two weeks and indeed beyond that,” she said.

Ambassador Khan also told the media that the Prime Minister will arrive in Bonn next week and in a speech on 18 May will outline Fiji’s expectations for the negotiations in November.

The Ambassador concluded her remarks by thanking the German Government and the Moroccan COP22 Presidency for their generous support for the incoming Fijian presidency and said that Fiji looked forward to working with them, as well as the UNFCCC and other partners, to deliver a successful COP.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, also speaking at the media conference, set the scene for the coming two weeks and reinforced the urgent need for progress in the negotiations. “Here in Bonn, we need to go from general discussions to specific elements that can lead to common understandings,” she said.

The May meetings will run from 8-18 May at the World Conference Centre in Bonn.

Suva, Fiji