Human Rights expert to visit Auckland Varsity

University of Auckland has appointed Rosslyn Noonan as a Visiting Fellow at the ‘New Zealand Centre for Human Rights Law, Policy and Practice’ of the Law School.

Ms Noonan, a former Chief Commissioner for the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, said that New Zealand universities lacked a ‘truly comprehensive, in-depth focus on Human Rights.

“The Centre has the potential to provide support for wider community initiatives to strengthen human rights and attract people for research from the Asia Pacific region. This is a key role which I believe our universities should be playing,” she said.

According to her, the Centre recognises that policy and practice are as important as law, and it shows a firm focus as a multi-disciplinary unit.

Human Rights standards

Ms Noonan will explore the factors needed to ensure that international human rights standards ratified by New Zealand are more systematically incorporated into law and policy developments, especially on economic and social policy.

She is also keen to pursue her long-cherished commitment of writing the biography of Dr William Ball-Sutch, an economist well known for his strong human rights and social justice approach, and subsequent impact on New Zealand’s development.

With her lifelong dedication to human rights in New Zealand and overseas, Ms Noonan has been a strong supporter of women, children, and indigenous and minority culture groups.

Set priorities

As Chief Commissioner of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission from 2001 to 2011, she led the transformation of the organisation from an anti-discrimination body to an internationally recognised and accredited national human rights institution.

She was the Chair of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC) from 2010 to 2012. During this assignment, she supported the establishment and strengthening of independent national human rights institutions to ensure that they met international standards.

Her earlier assignments included National Secretary, New Zealand Educational Institute, National Executive of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Commissioner for the Royal Commission on Social Policy and Trade Union and Human Rights Coordinator for Education International.

She received the University of Auckland Distinguished Alumni Award in 2002 in recognition of her services to education and human rights in New Zealand and in other countries.

Students benefit

Andrew Stockley, Dean of the Centre, said that that Ms Noonan’s appointment would greatly benefit staff and students.

She said that she was keen to develop national human rights institutions.

“These have been emerging over the last ten to fifteen years, as new pillars of the state in a sense. I am interested in their development and their impact, as they are the only institutions of the state that have independent recognition at the UN,” she said.

Photo : Rosslyn Noonan

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