December 2015
  • A New Dawn for Human Rights in Fiji?
    Learning from Comparative Lessons

    Dominic O’Brien and Sue Farran

New beginnings offer new opportunities but also present new challenges. The restoration of democracy in Fiji in 2014 was accompanied by a new and far reaching Constitution, which, among other things, promises much in the context of social, economic
and cultural rights. These rights,which have sometimes been described as soft or “third generation” rights, give rise to resource demands, and in developing and least developed countries,governments may struggle to deliver on promises, or if they seek to doso may encounter certain dif?culties. In this article we look across the globe at comparative examples of how different countries have
met their international and national obligations to give effect to the right to health and healthcare,especially for children, and use this comparative exercise to consider the options open to Fiji in considering how to ful?l the expectations raised by an ambitious new Constitution.

human rights; right to healthcare; children; comparative law;Fiji; India; South Africa; Brazil; Columbia

Click here to read extracts of the article

Following what appears to have been a peaceful election in September 2014 Fiji is back on the road to democracy after several years of government by decree following a military coup in 2006. Part of this process includes a new constitution.This promises to befar reaching and in particular includes extensive human rights provisions in Chapter Two. The rights with which this paper is concerned are those which broadly fall under economic, social and cultural rights — which go far beyond Fiji’s current international obligations,1 notably the right to health,especially the rights of children to health care. This paper locates those rights within the international rights context and within the comparative perspective of a child’s right to health and healthcare elsewhere, drawing on the examples of India,South Africa, Brazil and Columbia. This comparison is made in order to examine the challenges that may confront Fiji in delivering on this right and to identify the approaches which have succeeded and those which have created as many problems as they have solved. While it is recognised that in many respects the situation in this Pacifi c island state is unique, nevertheless it is hoped that with virtually nothing in the way of local or regional precedent to guide it, experiences from elsewhere may serve as useful lessons for the newly elected government to consider.
This article fi rst briefl y introduces the reader to those aspects of Fiji which are signifi cant for the focus of the paper. It then examines the new rights provisions in the Constitution, locating these against the broader international background of human rights and in particular the right to health care. Express provision for the right to health care is relatively rare in national billsof rights, nevertheless there are comparators elsewhere, and it is to these that attention is turned in order to explore how the right hasbeen given effect and what consequences this has had. The article concludes by considering what can be learnt from these comparative