Foreign Ministry holds first meeting on human rights in St. Kitts and Nevis
On Jan. 16, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation held the orientation meeting of the National Mechanism for Reporting and Follow-Up (NMRF).
This mechanism is a Cabinet-approved, inter-ministerial committee created to assess and report on the government’s efforts to promote and protect human rights in the federation. The committee is expected to respond to recommendations from United Nations Treaty Bodies and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. The UPR is a United Nations mechanism created in March 2006 and requires all 193 UN member states to report on its human rights situation to the working group of the Human Rights Council at every four-and-a-half-year cycle.
St. Kitts and Nevis presented its UPR for the previous two cycles, in 2011 and 2015, and is scheduled to present its next national report in 2020 during the third cycle.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation Kaye Bass beckoned for closer inter-ministerial dialogue and partnership to report on the plethora of policies, initiatives and programmes to promote and protect human rights, implemented by various government agencies. Bass outlined the objectives for the NMRF, which include coordinating and consulting regularly with relevant stakeholders in order to collate information and data that could be compiled into the national reports to be submitted to international organisations.
Asha DeSuza, second secretary in the Permanent Mission of St. Kitts and Nevis with the responsibility for Human Rights, echoing similar sentiments, explained that the NMRF is critical to the mission’s work at the UN and will serve as a meaningful instrument that will allow St. Kitts and Nevis to present on its progress in the area of human rights both in Geneva, seat of the Human Rights Council, and New York, home of the United Nations.
Sheldon Henry, foreign service officer with partial responsibility for Human Rights, presented on the facts, functions and structure of the UPR.
Representatives from the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, National Drug Council, Department of Gender Affairs, departments of Community Affairs, Labour and Social Services (Nevis), and the Office of the Prime Minister participated in the meeting. This orientation session is a precursor to a follow-up training in early February 2018 to be conducted by the regional office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) based in Barbados.
Through this medium, the ministry once again calls on all ministries to nominate a representative and an alternate to become a part of the NMRF. For more information, contact the Foreign Ministry at 1-869-467-1161.