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Lord Sevele: the government I led opposed CEDAW

Nuku'alofa, Tonga


I note in your one of your articles today on CEDAW the following statement:
" Tonga made the initial move to ratify CEDAW in 2006 when Dr Feleti Sevele was Prime Minister, but because Tonga had reservations, the ratification process was suspended."
This is totally incorrect and I would ask that this be withdrawn and an appropriate note to that effect. The following is what actually and factually took place:

We and the Government I led were opposed to ratifying CEDAW as its main provisions, especially Articles 2 and 16 – the core provisions of the Convention - are in direct conflict with:

a) some of the main provisions of our Constitution and laws;

b) some of our traditional customs and traditions; and

c) some of our basic Christian doctrines.

Detailed debates and discussions of the subject in Cabinet led to a unanimous decision to reject the push by the supporters of the Convention to have Tonga agree to ratifying it.

We, the Government of the day, subsequently agreed to have a full and frank debate in the House, following the receipt of a petition introduced to the House by some of the people’s representatives. Some of the people’s representatives did initially support the move to ratify the Convention, since many of them had not read the Convention, but which we caused to be distributed to all Members.  However, after full and frank discussion and ready explanation from myself and my Cabinet colleagues, the House rejected the petition with (if my memory serves me right) only one MP voting for it.

The CEDAW Convention is one from which our beloved country with our unique Constitution and “Tukufakaholo” should keep well away. Those having doubts about this advice should study carefully, carefully all the provisions of the Convention, especially Articles 2, 16 and 28 (2).

His Late Majesty King Tupou V in His Opening of the FWC Conference in 2009 had this warning to the Congregation: “Ko ‘etau ‘alu atu ‘e ni ki he founga pule’anga fakatemokalati fo’ou ka ke mou tokanga pe Siasi na’a hanga ‘e he founga fo’ou ko’eni ‘o ‘omi ha ngaahi fokotu’utu’u ‘e fepaki mo e ngaahi tui faka-kalisitiane ‘a e Siasi”.   Koe Langi Mama’o ‘e ni me i Fale Lahi ‘oku totonu ke ne tataki kitautolu ‘i he ngaahi taimi pe he ni.

  Yours faithfully
Lord Sevele ‘o Vailahi