NGO Coalition On Human Rights

10 December 1998 marked the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights. With a view to commemorating this anniversary, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre invited a number of local and regional non-government and community based organisations to attend a meeting to discuss ways in which this could be done. The meeting led to the formation of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights which comprises 15 local and regional NGOs committed to the promotion of human rights. The Coalition was launched on 10 December 1997 during the World Human Rights Day march and rally which was organised by FWCC.

The Coalition is a co-ordinating network for non-government organisations engaged in different aspects of human rights education, advocacy or project work. Its aim is to raise awareness in the community of human rights, and the various human rights instruments, and to explain human rights in a way that is relevant to people’s daily lives. Membership of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights includes:

  •     AIDS Taskforce
  •     Citizen’s Constitutional Forum
  •     Fiji Council of Churches
  •     Fiji Disabled People’s Association
  •     Fiji Trade Unions Congress
  •     Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre
  •     Fiji Women’s Rights Movement
  •     Fiji Young Lawyers Association
  •     Greenpeace Pacific
  •     National Council of Women/Women in Politics
  •     Pacific Concerns Resource Centre
  •     SPACHEE/Ecowomen
  •     Wainimate
  •     Women’s Action for Change
  •     YWCA

Issues that are dealt with in this campaign include violence against women, women’s employment rights, the rights of children, HIV/AIDS, environmental issues, disability, trade union rights, colonisation issues, and political rights. Members of the Coalition are working together by providing support for each others activities as well as sharing skills, networks and resources. By joining forces the members of the Coalition have been able to gain larger audiences as well as a higher public and media profile for both the participating organisations and human rights issues.
To date the NGO Coalition on Human Rights has organised the following activities:

  •  December 1997 – March and Rally on World Human Rights Day
  •  January 1998 – Forum on HIV/AIDS and Ethics (organised by Fiji Young Lawyers and AIDS Task Force).
  •  February 1998 – Seminar on the proposed Human Rights Commission under Fiji’s Constitution including speeches and presentations by representatives of Amnesty International, the UN Human Rights Commissioner and the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (organised by Citizen’s Constitutional Forum and IJALS/USP).
  • March 1998 – Activities to mark International Women’s Day included 2 panel discussions on human rights conventions and Women’s Human Rights and a Reclaim the Night March and re-launching of the Women of the World Peace Petition (organised by Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre), panel discussion on Women of the Colonies (organised by National Council of Women, Pacific Concerns Resource Centre, YWCA, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement) and presentations to the media. International Women’s Day Church Service (organised by Fiji Council of Churches and Ecumenical Women), women’s health programme organised by National Council of Women and the ‘Lets Change Fiji 100 Women at a Time” Seminar on Electoral Issues (organised by Women in Politics)
  • April 1998 – A forum on Young Women and Employment Rights (organised by Fiji YWCA). Public meeting on consequences of French nuclear testing in the Pacific on the health of workers on Mororua and Fangataufa (organised by Greepeace Pacific and Pacific Concerns Resource Centre
  • May 1998 – 15th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial and Mobilisation including an Open Day at Sukuna Park to raise community awareness on HIV/AIDS and related issues (organised by Fiji Council of Churches and UNAIDS). Media awareness programme, puppet shows and talks on “Your right to safe health and safety information” (organised by Fiji Red Cross). Churches and NGO Forum for the National Budget to inform ourselves on the importance of participation of NGOs in the budget preparation process (organised by Fiji Council of Churches).
  • June 1998- Panel Discussion on Human Rights and Responsibility to the Natural World (organised by Ecowoman and SPACHEE).

Members of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights will continue to organise activities to raise awareness on human rights issues and will come together in the months of November and December to intensify its campaign. The activities planned for these months will be funded by the United Nations Development Project, UNIFEM Pacific and the International Labour Organisation and will include:

  • Human Rights Education Tour to provincial centres and rural areas in the West of Viti Levu to promote outreach to schools and community groups outside of the capital, Suva. The tour will present a program of theatre, speeches, and displays in Sigatoka, Ba, Lautoka and Nadi.
  • Media outreach – including newspaper advertisements, articles and radio spots
  • Cinema advertisements at Village Six
  • Video screenings on human rights issues
  • Human Rights Week exhibition, march, rally and concert from 3 – 10 December.
  • Mural Competition for Secondary Schools focusing on different human rights themes.

The NGO coalition is administered by a rotating secretariat. The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre was the initial secretariat, headed by Chairperson Anita Singh. The current administrative secretariat for the NGO Coalition on Human Rights is the Citizen’s Constitutional Forum, with Chairperson, Rev Akuila Yabaki.

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