Monday, 6 June 2011

chief human rights commissioner

over the last ten years, and particularly when helen clark was prime minister, we regularly had the list of women in nz who holding the top-most positions of power. most of you will be familiar with it: woman prime minister, woman speaker of the house (margaret wilson), woman chief justice (sian elias), woman heading one of our largest corporations (teresa gattung), woman governor-general (sylvia cartwright).

one of the women who was rarely mentioned was our rosslyn noonan, our chief human rights commissioner. she has headed the human rights commission for ten years, and has done some marvellous work over that time. the HRC has not only been a strong advocate under her leadership, but she has delivered on her vision to take human rights out of lawyers' offices and into the community.

i've know rosslyn for some years, not very closely but certainly enough to know what a strong, generous and compassionate woman she is. she has spent her life advocating for human rights in various roles, and last year she was elected chairwoman of the ICC (International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights).

here's a brief bio i found online:

Rosslyn Noonan is New Zealand’s Chief Human Rights Commissioner. She has an MA (Hons. 1st) in history from The University of Auckland and is the author of the centennial history of the New Zealand Ministry of Public Works. She has been a university lecturer, a trade union official and a Wellington City councillor. She has also worked internationally. Much of her career has been in the education sector as General Secretary of the Kindergarten Teachers’ Association (1976-1981); National Secretary of NZEI Te Riu Roa (1988-1996) and as Coordinator of Trade Union and Human Rights for Education International (1996-2001).

Rosslyn has been actively involved in the women’s movement and the anti-racism movement in New Zealand.

rosslyn's term as the chief human rights commissioner ended on 31 may 2011. she is continuing on for the present because the government hasn't managed to organise a replacement for her. indeed, it will be extremely difficult to find someone of her calibre, and it bothers me that this present government might choose someone who isn't willing to be such a strong advocate.

be that as it may, here is a powerful nz woman who deserves much more recognition than she gets. and i know that it's a great loss to the country to no longer have her working in this role.


Marianne said...

Amen. I worked with Rosslyn for many years at the HRC and she will be sorely missed in this role by the human rights community and very hard to replace.

Draco TB said...

This government is probably trying to find someone who will systematically undermine human rights. Their record so far, after all, isn't great - the minister for Woman's Affairs did, after all, cut the research into pay equality and stand up and say that it wasn't needed any more while the pay gap between men and women was getting larger.

Acid Queen said...

Why is she not being allowed to remain in office? Why isn't Labour or the Greens or Mana picking up on this?

stargazer said...

her warrant is for 5 years. it was renewed once, and is not being renewed again. i have no information about why that is the case - it may be that she is ready to move on, or it may be that it can only be renewed once? i know the race relation commissioner's term is coming to an end next year, and that is also going to be a HUGE loss.

Acid Queen said...

National could keep her if they wanted to. They obv. don't which shows that they are opposed to racial harmony. Not that we needed evidence of that (East Cape oil drilling anyone?)