In 2018-19, New Zealand adopted a Human Rights Action Plan. It sets out our priorities for international advocacy on human rights issues for the next five years.

The Action Plan identifies areas where New Zealand can have a positive impact on advancing human rights issues by leading and supporting initiatives. It also provides guidance for advocacy and policy engagement on human rights to ensure our approach is consistent and coordinated across multilateral and bilateral settings.

New Zealand will be a global leader on issues relating to the rights of persons with disabilities, gender equality and women’s empowerment, sexual orientation and gender identity, and abolition of the death penalty. We will also actively engage on the rights of indigenous peoples, children and young people, violence and discrimination against minorities, freedom of expression and torture and arbitrary detention.

To develop these priorities, we consulted widely, including with other government agencies and the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. The Ministry’s internal Human Rights Coordination Network ensured a consistent approach to human rights issues across different work streams, including in our development programme and the Pacific Reset. We reconsidered the proposed priorities in the aftermath of the Christchurch terror attack, particularly in relation to New Zealand’s engagement on issues relating to violence and discrimination against minorities.

In setting the priorities in the Action Plan, we took into account New Zealand’s existing role and profile in the multilateral system. We also considered issues of importance to New Zealanders (including those identified during nationwide hui), pressing human rights issues in the Asia-Pacific region, our consular work, and alignment with broader foreign policy, trade, and development interests. We identified areas where New Zealand could have a tangible impact on progressing global human rights standards and prevent regression of core principles.

Work is underway on an implementation plan with specific targets and indicators so that we can measure New Zealand’s impact on human rights issues.

Room view of 40th session of Human Rights Council
A wide view of the room as Secretary-General António Guterres (at podium) makes remarks at the opening of the 40th session of the Human Rights Council. Credit: UN Photo/Violaine Martin