(05) Overview: the Commission's analysis

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Overview: the Commission’s analysis

When a natural disaster occurs, the primary focus of government and relief agencies is on addressing the immediate needs of those affected, such as finding survivors, providing food and water, shelter, sanitation and medical care. However, the chaos that almost inevitably follows such an event also increases the potential for human rights violations. Such violations can result from inadequate policies or simple neglect, but they can often be mitigated or avoided if relevant human rights standards are taken into account in the early stages of planning.

Much has been done to ensure the rights of people affected by the Canterbury earthquakes are protected. However, the earthquakes resulted in challenges to the realisation of a range of economic and social rights, such as the right to housing, to an adequate standard of living, health, education and to property. Civil and political rights such as rights to participation or access to information have also been affected. These challenges have been especially acute for those who were already disadvantaged or facing discrimination in the pre-disaster context, such as people with disabilities, the elderly, cultural minorities, and children and young people. Security of home as a human right has assumed a new relevance through the earthquake recovery.

This report provides a human rights analysis of key issues that have emerged in the recovery relating to housing, health and property. It highlights particular human rights challenges in these areas, instances of good progress, and areas in which challenges remain. 

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