Each island community is unique, but small island jurisdictions face a range of common challenges, both internal and external related to human rights with limited capacity to address those challenges. Despite the challenges of capacity, small jurisdictions are sometimes more nimble than larger states and so can act as leaders in global human rights developments. Island Rights Initiative addresses human rights in the context of small islands from 2 different perspectives:
Island communities are not isolated from global phenomena and often find themselves on the frontline of some of the biggest human rights challenges of our time. For small communities with limited diversification, some issues are existential threats for their societies. Their ability to innovate and to represent their interests on the international stage is crucial to their sustainability and their ability to protect the fundamental rights of their people and effectively achieve targets under a range of SDGs.
Many small islands find themselves at the sharp end of the impact of climate change with rising sea levels and natural disasters posing a serious threat to the human rights of their people. Small islands are often the front line on dangerous migration routes and find themselves trying to manage complex human rights issues related to migrants’ rights with limited resources. Island Rights Initiative can help small islands to engage internationally on global human rights issues that affect them.
Some small island economies are built on international businesses like international finance and shipping that have global human rights impacts. Island Rights Initiative can help small islands to adapt to changing global standards in human rights and ensure that their economies drive human rights compliant business.
Global challenges like combating terrorist financing, human trafficking and tackling money-laundering are issues that small islands, particularly those with significant financial centres, need to be able to address. Island Rights Initiative can help small islands to ensure that their international cooperation on such issues is effective and human rights compliant.
Human rights law is relevant to many areas of law and policy affecting our lives every day like access to healthcare and education, child protection, gender equality, the rights of older people and people with disabilities, public accountability, a healthy environment, and civil and criminal proceedings. SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions provides a foundation for effective implementation of many of the other SDGs. Small communities often face challenges of capacity for implementation of international human rights standards. As lawyers and policy makers need to cover a huge range of issues, it can be difficult to stay on top of developments in all areas.
Good governance is the key to real and effective protection of human rights. The models for accountability, oversight and access to justice that work in larger jurisdictions may be impractical in a small island context. Island Rights Initiative can help islands develop best practice in good governance and accountability that is tailored to their circumstances.
Small administrations can struggle to meet the stringent reporting requirements of international human rights law or to implement human rights standards in a way that makes sense in a smaller setting. Island Rights Initiative can provide support for small island administrations and communities to meet international human rights standards at home.
For civil society, lawyers or individuals concerned about their human rights, it can often be challenging to raise concerns effectively in a small community. There can be difficulties in reaching out to challenge human rights violations in national, regional and international fora. Island Rights Initiative can provide assistance and guidance to people and organisations seeking to address human rights issues in small islands.
Susie Alegre is an international human rights lawyer with 20 years’ experience working on issues related to human rights, the rule of law and accountability. She has worked for international NGOs like Amnesty International and for international organisations including the EU, Council of Europe, UN and OSCE. Her work includes comprehensive research and reporting on human rights, high-level stakeholder engagement and advocacy as well as strategic advice and programme design and management.
Susie’s outlook is international and she speaks French and Spanish fluently as well as her native English. Her passion for the issues facing small islands stems from her experience growing up in the Isle of Man where she is currently appointed as Interception of Communications Commissioner. Susie founded the Island Rights Initiative to bring together her knowledge of international frameworks for human rights and accountability with her insights as an islander to support island communities around the world.
Rupert is a barrister in independent practice with 17 years’ experience. As counsel he has specialised in litigating a wide variety of public law claims in the Higher Courts of England and Wales for 14 years. He has litigated within Caribbean Courts including leading in a successful appeal to the Privy Council. He co-authors a leading practitioner work, Millington and Sutherland Williams on the Proceeds of Crime, and sits as a fee paid Judge of the Tax Tribunal.
His experience of small island jurisdictions comes from his time as the Attorney General of Anguilla, a British Overseas Territory, between 2014 and 2016. In that role he sat in the legislature, devised policy, oversaw the drafting of legislation and was responsible for compliance with international conventions and treaties including those concerning human rights. He liaised with a range of international bodies across a range of small island jurisdictions and is familiar with the constitutional challenges they face.
Roy Lee is a barrister & solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia. He has over 20 years’ experience as a legislative drafter, consultant and adviser to governments and statutory bodies, mainly in island states or territories. In addition to the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark, Roy has practised or consulted in New Zealand, Australia, Guyana, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. Former clients include the World Bank, IMF, European Commission, UNDP, UNICEF and Commonwealth Secretariat. He lectures and writes on democratic governance and upgrading democracy through appropriate standards for legislation, inspired by international human rights law.
Currently, as Legislative Counsel at the Law Officers’ Chambers of Guernsey he advises law enforcement, prison and government officers on the application of human rights legislation, such as the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. He has also advised on privacy, discrimination, freedom of information, and other human rights legislation in Australia and New Zealand.
Pakeeza Rasheed is a barrister & solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. She was born in Fiji and continues to have deep ties to her community in the country. Her interest in island rights is deeply rooted in her identity as a Fijian Indian. She has approximately 8 years’ experience as a lawyer and adviser to the New Zealand government and has provided advice on a broad range of complex issues in the areas of justice, criminal law, legislative reform, commercial contracts, regulatory compliance, corporate governance, economic policy and international financial transactions. She has provided advice to the New Zealand Ministry of Justice, the New Zealand Department of Corrections, The New Zealand Treasury and the Overseas Investment Office.
Pakeeza has a strong passion for human rights issues and has spent time working within the refugee sector where she has gained knowledge and experience in international refugee law and refugee rights. She currently leads a rights-based NGO for refugees and engages regularly in strategic and financial planning, research, advocacy, community development and high-level stakeholder engagement. She also has experience as a board director and currently sits on several different boards.
Sareta Ashraph comes from the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. A barrister specialised in international criminal and humanitarian law, Sareta served as the Chief Analyst on the Commission of Inquiry on Syria (2012-2016) and the Commission of Inquiry on Libya (2011-12). She has also worked as a Legal Adviser at the International Criminal Court (2010-2011) and was Counsel before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (2003-2009). She was recently Stanford Law School’s Global Practitioner-in-Residence and in 2015 was a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School. Sareta is a member of Garden Court Chambers in London, and is called to the Bar of England and Wales, as well as the Bar of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Angelique is a Barrister (Lincoln’s Inn, 2013) and Attorney-at-Law (Seychelles, 2015) from the Seychelles. She practised in private sector for three years in a broad mixed practice primarily in litigation and advisory work. She is also a qualified civil and commercial mediator. She recently completed an LLM Environmental Law at the Queen Mary, University of London. Her specialism is ocean and climate change and has carried out extensive research on the the legal implications for the loss of marine natural resources as a result of climate change, the threat of land-based source marine pollution to the debt-for-adaptation swap and environment and human rights. Angelique was also the legal advisor to the Chagossian community in Seychelles as they sought legal avenues to return to their home island in Diego Garcia. She has also carried out extensive research on piracy in the Indian Ocean and human rights.
In 2014, she co-founded a youth-led NGO that mobilises SIDS youth to promote and advance sustainable development through youth-led projects. To date, the SIDS Youth AIMS Hub – Seychelles has successfully led a campaign to ban plastic bags in the Seychelles with the ban coming into force in July 2017. She was part of the team contributing to the content of the legislation on the ban of plastic bags. In recognition of her work in promoting environmental sustainability she was awarded the Queen’s Young Leaders Award 2016.