This country???s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, has identified promoting human rights as a top priority.

She gave the undertaking to continue to promote and protect human rights, today during the opening ceremony for a human rights leadership seminar for Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments at Hilton Barbados.

Senator McClean told her audience that Barbados had made progress in human rights by providing the enabling environment that allowed citizens collectively and individually to achieve an improved standard of life.

???Notwithstanding our vulnerabilities, current constraints and challenges, the promotion of human rights remains a priority for Barbados. Barbados continues to strengthen its governance structure and human rights framework, and this seminar is an example of this,??? she added.

Senator McClean said since Independence, Barbados has actively pursued a foreign policy agenda that was strongly committed to the protection and promotion of human rights.

???We have, therefore, supported ongoing action by the international community to promote and protect fundamental human rights. This is reflected in our voting pattern at the United Nations and our adherence to almost all of the core human rights treaties. Barbados is currently a party to six of the nine human rights treaties,??? the Minister underlined.

The Foreign Minister said Barbados??? commitment to human rights in the international arena originated from a national policy that has resulted in priority being placed on building a national infrastructure that was supportive of the protection of human rights.

This can be achieved, Senator McClean said, by promoting good governance; working towards the eradication of poverty and hunger; safeguarding the economic and social rights of the most vulnerable and marginalised within the society, including children and persons with disabilities; promoting gender equality; and the empowerment of women.

Meanwhile, Head of Human Rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Karen McKenzie, said building a sustainable human rights culture was dependent on a nationally integrative approach across all areas of government, combined with solid national leadership.

???Accordingly, the aim of the seminar is to encourage and support those key actors with guided responsibilities for shaping policies and implementing programmes on human rights with the understanding, knowledge, practical tools and strategies to advance the human rights agenda through your respective Ministries,??? she added.

The seminar will end tomorrow, Tuesday, November 18.

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