A young Horowhenua woman has been selected to represent New Zealand as part of a delegation to a United Nations human rights review in Geneva.

Emily Anderson was selected through the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute (AYLI) to attend the review in January.

AYLI is a newly established organisation that sends delegations to top international-level events all over the world.

Along with other delegates, Emily will have the opportunity to witness the final part of the Universal Periodic Review process, where New Zealand, alongside 13 other countries, will be receiving its third review.


The Universal Periodic Review was established in 2006, and examines the human rights records of each of the 193 United Nations member states.

Each country reports to the UN once every five years on how it is carrying out its human rights obligations under international human rights law and and is given recommendations from other states on how to improve.

The goal of the review process is to improve human rights and counter human rights violations.

The last time New Zealand was reviewed, in 2014, the need for an improvement in its record on indigenous and gender-related human rights issues was identified.

The 2019 review will show if a difference has been made, which Emily is particularly interested to see.

"It's going to be quite different because this is the first time we've been reviewed with the Labour government," she said.
"Because it's so newly established we've only been reviewed with the legislation that's been made with National, so it will be really interesting to see if changes made so far have meant anything."

The Victoria University student, who is studying conjoint Law and Arts degrees in Linguistics and Political Science, said she had to complete a comprehensive application to be considered for the AYLI delegation, which will also provide the chance to visit with non-governmental organisations and think tanks during the trip.

"The applications asked things such as why I was interested in going, which other country I'd be really interested to witness [being reviewed] and why," she said.


For the latter she picked Comoros — a small African nation of 700,000 people that still struggles with many human rights issues.

"Their last review said they had so many other issues, like they still have the death penalty and all these other things that we really take for granted as our rights in New Zealand, so I thought that would be really interesting to see what happens with a country that's so different to New Zealand."

The delegates will also get to experience a special Pre-Session with UN experts — the first ever to be held in New Zealand — as part of a training weekend in Wellington before their departure to the UN.

Emily said she is also passionate about ending injustice against children, and hopes to play a role in protecting their rights in the future, a goal the experience at the UN may help her to achieve.

She said the opportunity to travel to Geneva was incredible, and her selection was " pretty unexpected".

The trip would also give her the opportunity to spend some time exploring Geneva, and she already had work lined up over summer to help pay the costs of just over $5000 to attend.

A 2017 graduate of Waiopehu College, former deputy chair of Horowhenua Youth Voice and recipient of Horowhenua District Council Youth Excellence scholarships, Emily hopes to use the experience to make a difference.

"If I could choose one difference to make it would be in the equality of education between low socio-economic and high socio-economic areas," she said.