Human Rights Fundamental In Disaster Response

Published: Thu 30 Mar 2023 01:56 PM
A critical checklist to ensure human rights are prioritised during relief and recovery efforts has been released today by Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission.
It follows the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle and the January floods in Auckland, and builds on the Commission’s previous work in crisis situations.
“We know from experience, including from the Canterbury earthquakes, that ensuring a human rights-based approach to disaster-response and emergencies is critical to protecting the most vulnerable in our communities,” says Te Amokapua Chief Commissioner Paul Hunt.
The checklist aims to help busy local and national officials, and others, apply human rights and te Tiriti o Waitangi in their vital relief and recovery efforts.
The Commission’s Rongomau Taketake, Claire Charters, says the checklist also builds on the swift and effective response of iwi, hapū, marae and Māori organisations in numerous emergency situations, including the Canterbury earthquakes, Covid-19 response and Cyclone Gabrielle.
“Their responses have been a powerful expression of tino rangatiratanga, self-determination and manaakitanga. The Government has te Tiriti o Waitangi responsibilities to back that up by ensuring Tangata Whenua participation in decision-making and equitable resourcing for Māori communities. These are outlined in the checklist.”
Disaster response efforts must be guided by the principles of non-discrimination, participation and inclusion, accountability and transparency, respect for dignity and privacy, protection of vulnerable groups, and access to justice.
“Human rights and te Tiriti can help all of us support and deliver for everyone affected by a disaster,” says Charters.
Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission has an accountability function in relation to the government’s human rights record, which includes responses to disasters.

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