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Visual Display Abara Banaba - Amnesty International Conference Australia

Ken Sigrah Amnesty International Confere

Ken Sigrah putting a hand to the Amnesty banner


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ABARA BANABA was launched by Ken Sigrah and Stacey King at Amnesty International Conference in Brisbane on 4-5 September 2004. A static poster and audiovisual presentation was set up to educate the conference delegates about the plight of the Banabans. A slide show consisting of over 350 photos of Banaba and Rabi Islands covering a period from 1900 up to April 2004 gave conference delegates a real insight into the history of the Banabans. Many of the participants had never heard of Banaba before and the realisation that the Banabans and their island were so much a part of recent Australian, New Zealand and British history came as a real shock and had some of them in tears when they saw the reality of the situation and how Banaba had been left devastated by 80 years of phosphate mining.

Even though no paper was presented at this conference, Ken Sigrah presented Amnesty's Executive with a copy of his book 'Te Rii ni Banaba' for their library, while Banaban participation at the conference was listed in the official closing statement.​​​​​​

Amnesty International Australia’s Inaugural Human Rights Conference

Human Rights: A Pacific Agenda
Partnerships and Perspectives

Brisbane 4 – 5 September 2004
The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Brisbane

Closing Statement issued by the 'Human Rights: A Pacific Agenda - Partnerships and Perspectives' conference hosted by Amnesty International Australia, Brisbane 4-5 September 2004

We encourage Australia to strengthen its commitment to promote and protect human rights in the Pacific, leading by example.

More than 300 participants from across the region, including the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, West Papua, Fiji, Banaba, Timor Leste, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Tonga, and Australia and representing human rights and community organisations, universities, governments, government agencies, intergovernmental organisations and the media shared a rich and diverse range of perspectives and experiences.

The conference considered a range of critical issues, including so-called "failed states", interventions, arms control, militarisation of the police, violence against women, peacekeeping and gender, uprooted and displaced people, refugees and asylum seekers, and the devastation of HIV/AIDS.

While noting that the responsibility to uphold human rights in the region is shared, conference participants recognised the positive outcomes of Australia's engagement in the Pacific and its potential to play a more effective role.

In recognising a joint commitment to promote and protect human rights in the Pacific, the value of cultural diversity, the importance of recognising the cultural context in a diverse region and the protection of indigenous rights and freedoms must be essential elements of any agenda to advance human rights for all peoples in the region.

Banaban Audio Display
Banaban Audio Display

Banaban audio display of over 350 photographs

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Banaban Poster Display
Banaban Poster Display

Static poster display on Banaban Histoy

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Banaban History Display
Banaban History Display

Delegates learning Banaban history for the first time

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Keynote Speakers
Keynote Speakers

Amnesty Conference Keynote Speakers

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Fiji Delegation
Fiji Delegation

Ken Sigrah with Fiji Delegation at Amnesty International Conference

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Integral to the realisation of genuine human security is the fulfilment of economic, social, and cultural rights, including access to basic services, food security, shelter, and the right to sustainable livelihoods.

Participants acknowledged that to eliminate violence against women, root causes, such as gender power imbalances, bride price and the perception of women as male property, pressure on families through economic hardship and lack of awareness of women's rights as human rights needed to be addressed.

The value of both formal and informal forums in the region and the value of women's involvement in peace-building and conflict resolution were stressed. The need for coordination between intergovernmental organisations and NGOs was raised, and the potential for Amnesty International's role in developing and promoting a human rights agenda for the Pacific and linkages with Pacific NGOs was welcomed.

The human rights impacts of environmental degradation, including the effects on populations of climate change and deforestation, and the resulting displacement of people were noted. Attention was drawn to the need for accountability in the activities of multinational mining companies.

Participants expressed concern that media coverage of Pacific affairs in Australia was selective and access to information on human rights issues in the Pacific was limited. The importance of a free media in safeguarding freedom of expression was reaffirmed.

The 'Human Rights: A Pacific Agenda' Conference made a number of recommendations for action by governments and non-government organisations to address human rights concerns in the Pacific.


The meeting called on Australia to:

  • Lead by example by complying with its international human rights obligations,

  • Sign, ratify, remove reservations, and ensure compliance with international human rights standards

  • Recognise that regional security activities must not compromise human rights obligations necessary to provide genuine human security.

  • Increase and diversify support for human rights initiatives in the Pacific, including:

  • Technical assistance for human rights treaty body reporting requirements

  • Development of National Human Rights Institutions

  • Regional representation in international human rights fora

  • Resources for local and regional human rights advocacy and human rights education by non-government organisations

  • Support international justice processes addressing impunity for past human rights violations

  • Support international initiatives to control the misuse, proliferation, and illicit trade in small arms

  • Establish human rights benchmarks for development and security initiatives in the Pacific

  • Ensure Pacific community engagement in design, implementation and evaluation of development programs

  • Support capacity building for community-based solutions to addressing family violence

  • Establish accountability mechanisms and gender-sensitive training programs for peacekeeping troops active in the Pacific

  • Rescind the 'Pacific Solution' policy

  • Encourage the adoption of the Refugee Convention in the region

  • Ensure practices in the region to promote principled burden and responsibility sharing of international protection of refugees and asylum seekers.


The conference called on the island states of the Pacific to:

  •  Sign, ratify, remove reservations, and ensure compliance with international human rights standards

  • Recognise and support the legitimate role of human rights advocacy and development work by civil society, and ensure the protection of human rights defenders.

  • Engage in an open dialogue with the community on the potential role of national human rights institutions in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions.

  • Support international justice processes addressing impunity for past human rights violations

  • Explore the development of a regional human rights mechanism.

  • Recognise that national security activities must not compromise human rights obligations necessary to provide genuine human security.

  • Support capacity building for community-based solutions to addressing family violence​


The conference called upon organisations in the Pacific Island States as well as Australia and New Zealand to seek further ways to:

  • Work together, provide mutual support, and share information in pursuit of human rights objectives in the region

  • Encourage greater awareness and expertise within Australia on issues relating to the Pacific.​


If you would like any further information on our papers of the oral presentations at this launch, please contact us at -

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