Nauru

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Footnotes



Introduction

An island nation of around 10,000 people located in Micronesia, Nauru is the world's smallest republic and second least populated country. Nauru is a parliamentary republic with a president as both head of state and of government, though economic turmoil and frequent votes of no confidence mean that administrations rarely complete their term. In addition to criticism for hosting Australia’s immigrant detention centres, concerns have also been raised that Nauru lacks the capacity to either effectively maintain human rights standards or fully engage with the relevant international mechanisms.


Geography

Nauru, a coral island in the Pacific Ocean, is the world's smallest republic. Located south of the equator, its nearest neighbours are the island of Banaba (part of Kiribati), the Solomon Islands to the south-west and the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia to the north/northwest. The island's capital is Yaren.

Population and language

The population of Nauru is 10,300,[1] and is made up of 7,572 indigenous Naurans, and a further 2,500 inhabitants variously composed of I-Kiribati, Tuvaluan and Chinese. The 2002 Census revealed an increase of just 146 people on the island since 1992, a factor which it attributes to changes in fertility and mortality, as well as increased migration.[2]

Three languages are commonly spoken in Nauru: English, Kosraean and Nauruan.

History and Politics

Germany took control of Nauru in 1886 under the Anglo-German Convention, an agreement in which Britain and Germany divided up territories in the region.

The island was seized by Australia during the First World War and under the League of Nations in 1920 it was agreed that the country would become a trusteeship administered by Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Nauru achieved independence in 1968.

Nauru is a democratic republic in which the President is head of state and head of government. Its unicameral parliamentary system is composed of 18 members who are elected every three years by Nauruans over the age of 20. There are no formal political parties in Nauru. A combination of political rivalries and failure to raise alternative sources of revenue following the closure of phosphate mines has led to the collapse of several governments in recent years.

Economy

Phosphate deposits were discovered in Nauru in 1906, signalling the start of a mining industry which came to dominate the nation's economy until stocks became depleted in the 1980s. While very lucrative at the time, the industry caused devastating environmental damage, leaving at least three quarters of the island uninhabitable.

The country has been left bankrupt by recent financial crises and is largely dependent on aid. Tourism and offshore banking also make some contribution to the economy. However, Nauru is reliant on imports, including for fuel and water. Its main trading partners are Australia, Fiji and New Zealand.

Media and society

The constitution guarantees freedom of expression, and media outlets operate freely.[3]

Human rights and children's rights

In 2001 Nauru and Papua New Guinea made an agreement with Australia to accommodate asylum seekers, including children, in improvised detention camps in return for rent and aid. This is known as the "Pacific Solution". The arbitrary detention and violation of human dignity of asylum seekers was heavily criticised internationally and the agreement was brought to a close in 2008. In 2012, however, Australia announced the resumption of this policy with plans to re-open the detention camps in Nauru.

Nauru has not yet reported to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, stating difficulties in fulfilling its reporting obligations as a result of its small size and human resources capacity.[4] It has, however, reported to the Universal Periodic Review. The UPR's recommendations are primarily directed at encouraging the State to ratify human rights treaties and submit their reports to the respective monitoring mechanisms. Substantive issues raised include the need to strengthen laws relating to physical and sexual abuse.[5]

  1. UNDP, "Nauru Human Development Indicators" 2011
  2. Secretariat of the Pacific Community, "Main Census Report and Demographic Profile of the Republic of Nauru 1992-2002"
  3. Freedom House, "Freedom in the World 2009- Nauru"
  4. Child Rights International Network, "Nauru: Children's Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review" January 2011
  5. Ibid.

Sources:

Quick Facts

  • Population: 10,300 (UNDP, 2011)
  • Population under 18: 4000 (UNICEF, 2010)
  • Number of Internet users: 340 Internet users as of December 2011 (InternetWorldStats)
  • Human Development Index ranking: n/a
  • Happy Planet Index ranking: n/a