New Zealand’s compliance with international human rights treaties was considered by two United Nations treaty bodies in 2012 – the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Both committees focused on unequal outcomes experienced by Māori, Pacific and migrant peoples, including in justice, education, health and employment. CESCR specifically urged the Government to eliminate these disadvantages by addressing the underlying structural discrimination (institutional racism) in the delivery of public services.
The committees also expressed concern at the welfare reforms implemented by the Government in 2012, emphasising the need to protect the rights of vulnerable and marginalised groups to social security, an adequate standard of living and freedom from discrimination.
In order to further protect human rights, CEDAW called for the establishment of a Human Rights Select Committee to strengthen Parliamentary oversight of human rights, CESCR also called for economic, social and cultural rights to be included in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (NZBoRA).
The Government and the Human Rights Commission submitted reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which was considered by CERD in February 2013. CERD identified an extensive list of themes for discussion. The Commission has monitored the recommendations made by CERD at its last review of New Zealand in 2007, and noted that action has been taken by the Government in response to the majority of these.