11 Jul 2012

Pacific cultural beliefs can infringe human rights - UN official

5:16 pm on 11 July 2012

A United Nations official says Pacific nations need to make sure cultural beliefs are not infringing human rights.

The UN Special Rapporteur for Cultural Rights, Farida Shaheed, is in the Pacific to attend the first ever Pacific Cultural Rights Symposium in Solomon Islands.

Ms Shaheed says the Pacific is not a region she is familiar with but has been impressed by its cultural diversity.

However, she says some representatives at the symposium have raised concern about local traditions infringing on human rights.

"Many cultures around the world have cultural understandings of gender for instance, or cultural understandings of persons with disabilities which deny equality. The concept that there's a difference between culture and custom is non-existence at least amongst some of the communities here."

Farida Shaheed says the problem is not unique to the Pacific but didin't identify any particular country.