This article explores whether ratifying international human rights treaties is a useful strategy to advance the cause of human rights in the Pacific. Much of the recent discussion has promoted the advantages of ratification.
The aim of this article is to contribute to the ratification debate by considering the potential responses Pacific states might make to the call for ratification. It assumes that the desired ultimate goal is greater protection of human rights in the Pacific, but suggests that in light of the challenges of ratification, there may be more effective means of advancing human rights in the Pacific than wholesale ratification of outstanding treaties.
While in the long-term ratification remains a worthy goal, in the short-term it may not be the best way forward. Instead, it may be more appropriate to focus on alternative means of advancing human rights. This may be through a combination of stronger domestic means to protect and promote human rights, the development of a Pacific regional mechanism to promote rights, and active engagement with the United Nations’ Human Rights Council’s new Universal Periodic Review (‘UPR’) mechanism. Selective ratification of individual treaties may still be worthwhile, but on a gradual basis, and certainly not wholesale.