Joined United Nations: 5 September 2000
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 10 November 2012
10,619 (July 2012 est.)
Elizabeth II of United Kingdom
Queen since 6 February 1952
The monarch is hereditary; Governor General appointed by the
monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister
Next scheduled election: None
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
Prime Minister since 24 December 2010
Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister elected by and from
the members of Parliament; election last held 16 September
Next scheduled election: 2014
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Polynesian 96%, Micronesian 4%
Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%, Baha'i 1%, other 0.6%
Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy with no administrative divisions. Legal system is based on
English common law and doctrines of equality with indigenous concepts
Executive: The monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the
prime minister; prime minister and deputy prime minister elected by and from the members of Parliament; election last
held 24 December 2010 (next to be held following parliamentary elections in 2014)
Legislative: Unicameral Parliament or Fale I Fono, also called House of Assembly (15 seats; members elected by
popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 16 September 2010 (next to be held in 2014)
Judicial: High Court (a chief justice visits twice a year to preside over its sessions; its rulings can be appealed to the
Court of Appeal in Fiji); eight Island Courts (with limited jurisdiction)
Tuvaluan, English, Samoan, Kiribati (on the island of Nui)
The islands were probably settled between the 14th and 17th centuries by Polynesians drifting west with prevailing winds
from Samoa and other large islands. The Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendaña y Neyra spotted the small island of Nui in
Tuvalu in 1568 while on an expedition to find the mythical land of Terra Australis. In 1819, Captain Arent de Peyster (or
Peyter), while on a voyage from Valparaíso to India, discovered the atoll of Funafuti, where the capital is now located, a
cluster of about fourteen low islands and sand keys. He named the cluster "Ellice's Group," after Edward Ellice, a British
Member of Parliament who provided De Peyster with his ship "Rebecca." The next morning, De Peyster discovered
another group of about seventeen low islands forty-three miles northwest of Funafuti, naming this group "De Peyster's
Islands." It is the first name, however, that was eventually used for the whole island group. In 1841, the U.S. Exploring
Expedition commanded by Charles Wilkes visited three of Tuvalu's islands and welcomed visitors to his ships. Other early
interactions with the outside world were far less benign—in 1863, hundreds of people from the southern islands were
kidnapped when they were lured aboard slave ships with promises that they would be taught about Christianity. Those
islanders were forced to work under horrific conditions in the guano mines of Peru. Eventually, the islands came under the
United Kingdom's sphere of influence as the Pacific was divided up in the late 19th century. The Ellice Islands were
administered by the United Kingdom as part of a protectorate (1892–1916) and as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands
Colony (1916–1974). During World War II, several thousand U.S. troops were in the islands. Beginning in October
1942, U.S. forces built airbases on the islands of Funafuti, Nanumea, and Nukufetau. Friendly cooperation was the
hallmark of relations between the local people and the troops, mainly U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy SeaBees. The airstrip
in the capital of Funafuti, originally built by the U.S. during the war, is still in use, as is the "American Passage" that was
blasted through Nanumea's reef by SeaBees assisted by local divers. In 1974 the Ellice Islanders voted for separate
British dependency status as Tuvalu, separating from the Gilbert Islands which became Kiribati upon independence.
Tuvalu became fully independent in 1978 and in 1979 signed a treaty of friendship with the United States, which
recognized Tuvalu's possession of four small islands formerly claimed by the United States. Elections held in July 2002
were, as is the norm in Tuvalu, free and fair. Six of the 15 members elected to Parliament are serving for the first time.
Saufatu Sopoanga, a former civil servant, became Prime Minister in August 2002 and then Deputy Prime Minister. In
recent years, Tuvalu has had a modest business selling the use of its ".tv" Internet domain. Tuvalu, one of the world's
smallest countries, has indicated that its priority within the United Nations is to emphasise "climate change and the unique
vulnerabilities of Tuvalu to its adverse impacts". Other priorities are obtaining "additional development assistance from
potential donor countries", widening the scope of Tuvalu's bilateral diplomatic relations, and, more generally, expressing
"Tuvalu's interests and concerns". The issue of climate change has featured prominently in Tuvalu's interventions with
major international speeches 2000, 2007 and 2008.
Source: Encyclopedia of the Nations: Tuvalu; Wikipedia: History of Tuvalu
Tuvalu consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls with poor soil. The country has no known
mineral resources and few exports and is almost entirely dependent upon imported food and fuel. Subsistence farming and
fishing are the primary economic activities. Fewer than 1,000 tourists, on average, visit Tuvalu annually. Job opportunities
are scarce and public sector workers make up most of those employed. About 15% of the adult male population work as
seamen on merchant ships abroad, and remittances are a vital source of income contributing around $2 million in 2007.
Substantial income is received annually from the Tuvalu Trust Fund (TTF) an international trust fund established in 1987
by Australia, NZ, and the UK and supported also by Japan and South Korea. Thanks to wise investments and
conservative withdrawals, this fund grew from an initial $17 million to an estimated value of $77 million in 2006. The TTF
contributed nearly $9 million towards the government budget in 2006 and is an important cushion for meeting shortfalls in
the government's budget. The US Government is also a major revenue source for Tuvalu because of payments from a
1988 treaty on fisheries. In an effort to ensure financial stability and sustainability, the government is pursuing public sector
reforms, including privatization of some government functions and personnel cuts. Tuvalu also derives royalties from the
lease of its ".tv" Internet domain name with revenue of more than $2 million in 2006. A minor source of government
revenue comes from the sale of stamps and coins. With merchandise exports only a fraction of merchandise imports,
continued reliance must be placed on fishing and telecommunications license fees, remittances from overseas workers,
official transfers, and income from overseas investments. Growing income disparities and the vulnerability of the country to
climatic change are among leading concerns for the nation.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Tuvalu)
The Tuvaluan general election, 2010 is the most recent election. Parliament was dissolved on 13 August 2010, and
registration began on 28 August 2010. Twenty-six candidates, including all sitting Members of Parliament, stood for the
fifteen seats in Parliament. In total, ten MPs were re-elected, while five incumbent MPs lost their seats.
Approximately one and a half weeks after the 2010 general election, a secret ballot was held on 29 September 2010 to
determine the country's next prime minister. Incumbent prime minister Apisai Ielemia was not returned to a second term.
Maatia Toafa won the ballot with eight votes to become Tuvalu's next prime minister. Toafa narrowly defeated Kausea
Natano, who received the votes of seven MPs in the ballot. The election results were announced by Governor-General
Iakoba Italeli and Toafa took office the same day.
On 24 December 2010, after a motion of no confidence, carried by eight votes to seven, Maatia Toafa was replaced by
Willy Telavi as Prime Minister of Tuvalu.
Minister of Works Isaia Italeli died suddenly in July 2011, which led to a by-election in the Nui constituency the following
month. The election was won by his widow, Pelenike Isaia, who became only the second woman ever to have sat in the
Tuvaluan Parliament. The by-election was described as "pivotal", as Italeli's death had deprived Prime Minister Willy
Telavi of his government's one seat majority in Parliament. Pelenike Isaia's election restored it, strengthening the
Source: Wikipedia Politics of Tuvalu
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Report: Tuvalu
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
Tuvalu is a constitutional parliamentary democracy. Following generally free and fair parliamentary elections in September 2010, a
loose coalition of eight of the 15 members of Parliament (MPs) formed a new government and selected Maatia Toafa as prime
minister. However, in December 2010 Parliament ousted Toafa in a vote of no confidence and selected Willy Telavi as the new
prime minister. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
There were human rights problems in a few areas. In particular, there were concerns that traditional customs and social patterns
led to and perpetuated religious and social discrimination, including discrimination against women. Domestic violence also was a
In January the government banned public gatherings and meetings in the capital, Funafuti, following demonstrations by residents of
Nukufetau Island demanding removal of one of their MPs. The ban ended in mid-February.
There were no reports that government officials committed human rights abuses
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UN: Human Right to Safe Drinking Water Mission to Tuvalu
Friday, 20 July 2012, 11:01 am
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation
Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque
Mission to Tuvalu
From 17-19 July 2012, I undertook an official visit to Tuvalu at the invitation of the Government. I am honored to be the first
human rights expert invited to this country. The objective of this visit was to examine the situation of the human rights to water and
sanitation in Tuvalu. I wish to firstly thank the Government for the excellent cooperation exhibited during the preparation, and
throughout this mission. I also extend a special thanks to a small but efficient UN representation, who played a fundamental role in
organizing and supporting the mission.
During the mission I had the opportunity to meet with numerous Government departments, including Foreign Affairs, Public
Utilities, Health, Education, Youths and Sports, Natural Resources, Finance and Economic Development, Personnel and Training,
and Communication and Transport. I was also given an opportunity to visit a settlement on the outskirts of Funafuti and talk to
people. In addition, I met with civil society organizations and development partners. I visited a school and a group of residents in
the outskirts of Funafuti with whom I discussed their access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Before coming to Tuvalu, I also met
with representatives of AusAid and New Zealand Aid, as well as with UN Country Team and SOPAC in Suva. I wish to take this
opportunity to thank all those who took their time to meet with me and help me better understand the situation of access to water
and sanitation in Tuvalu. Later this week I will continue my meetings with other donor agencies in Suva.
The Human Rights to Water and Sanitation
Water and sanitation are human rights. Human rights are for everybody. Every individual - from a child in Funafuti to an old
woman in one of the outer islands – is entitled to access to drinking water and adequate sanitation that is accessible, available,
affordable, acceptable and safe. Water must be safe for human consumption, and sanitation facilities must safely separate human
excreta from human or animal contact. The realization of these rights also requires ensuring access to adequate and affordable
hygiene practices, like hand washing, and menstrual hygiene management. Effective measures have to be taken in order to avoid
infiltration of human and animal waste into the groundwater, or into other water sources. Furthermore, appropriate mechanisms
have to be put in place to deal with emergencies or natural disasters that might affect these human rights.
The Government of Tuvalu officially supported the UN General Assembly resolution recognizing that access to safe drinking water
and sanitation is a fundamental human right, and I warmly welcome such commitment. The UN Human Rights Council further
affirmed that these rights derive from the right to an adequate standard of living, which is recognized in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination
Against Women – to which Tuvalu is a State Party.
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FREEDOM IN THE WORLD 2012 REPORT
Political Rights Score: 1
Civil Liberties Score: 1
In January 2011, the government implemented a brief ban on public gatherings of three or more people following public protests
against a lawmaker for his failure to meet with community leaders. In September, the government declared a two-week state of
emergency to impose strict control on the use of fresh water to alleviate the effects of a severe rain shortage.
Politics in Tuvalu have been marked by intense personal and political rivalries and the use of no-confidence votes to unseat
incumbents. In the September 2010 elections, 26 candidates—all independents—competed for 15 seats in Parliament. The elections
were considered free and fair, with no reported incidents of fraud or violence. In December 2010, Prime Minister Maatia Toafa
was ousted in a no-confidence vote and was replaced by Home Affairs Minister Willy Telavi.
In January 2011, amid public protests over Finance Minister Lotoala Metia’s refusal to meet with community leaders—a breach of
traditional protocol—Telavi banned public meetings involving more than 10 people; the government said that rumors of threats to
burn down lawmakers’ residences had made the ban necessary. The emergency order was revoked after four weeks, with the
provision that public meetings could be held only with permission from the police commissioner.
Global climate change and rising sea levels pose significant challenges for Tuvalu and other low-lying island states. Tuvalu’s highest
point is just five meters above sea level. Meanwhile, the weather pattern known as La Niña resulted in far less rainfall than usual in
2011, causing a severe fresh water shortage for Tuvalu. In September, the government declared a two-week state of emergency
when about 50 percent of the population had only a two-day supply of fresh water; water usage was strictly monitored and
rationed in some areas. New Zealand and the United States sent desalination equipment, which turns salt water into fresh water, to
help alleviate the shortage.
Tuvalu is an electoral democracy. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state and is represented by a governor general, who
must be a citizen of Tuvalu. The prime minister, chosen by Parliament, leads the government. The unicameral, 15-member
Parliament is elected to four-year terms. A six-person council administers each of the country’s nine atolls. Council members are
chosen by universal suffrage for four-year terms.
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UN Human Rights Council Tenth Session: Compilation of statements by Amnesty International
ORAL INTERVENTION ON TUVALU
20 MARCH 2009
Amnesty International welcomes many of the recommendations made by states to Tuvalu, including to cooperate with the Office of
the High Commissioner for Human Rights to strengthen legislation related to family, land and sexual offences against children; and
to establish a national human rights commission based on the Paris Principles.47 Amnesty International believes that such a
commission would significantly improve the promotion and protection of human rights in Tuvalu.
Amnesty International also welcomes recommendations to develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce domestic violence in
Tuvalu, including through raising public awareness and encouraging greater involvement by government agencies and civil society
in efforts to address domestic violence and gender discrimination.48 Amnesty International takes this opportunity to reiterate its call
to Tuvalu to develop and enact legislation to protect women and children from violence, in particular domestic violence.
Prevailing cultural notions of women’s status continue to be a key factor in perpetuating violence against women in Tuvalu.
Amnesty International therefore urges Tuvalu to support recommendations to eliminate legislation that has a discriminatory effect
against women, and to amend the Constitution to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and gender.49 Amnesty International
considers that gender violence cannot be eradicated without addressing the underlying factors that cause or contribute to gender
Amnesty International welcomes Tuvalu’s support of recommendations to ratify, with the assistance of the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights, a wide range of human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
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Finland Joins Landmine Ban Treaty
US Should Conclude Policy Review and Ban Landmines
January 11, 2012
(Washington, DC) – Finland’s action to join the international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines should spur the United States
and others to get on board without delay, Human Rights Watch said today.
Finland deposited its instrument of accession to the Mine Ban Treaty with the United Nations in New York on January 9, 2012. The
Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively prohibits use, production, trade, and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines and requires their
clearance and assistance to victims.
“Finland’s accession to the Mine Ban Treaty has been 14 years in the making,” said Steve Goose, director of the Arms division at
Human Rights Watch. “It had been one of the most notable holdouts, and its decision to go ahead shows that the global stigma
against antipersonnel mines keeps getting stronger.”
With Finland’s accession, a total of 159 nations are party to the Mine Ban Treaty, which was negotiated in 1997 and entered into
force on March 1, 1999. Others that joined recently include South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, in November and Tuvalu in
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Statement Presented by The Prime Minister of Tuvalu Honourable Mr. Willy Telavi
at The World Conference on Sustainable Development
20 - 22 June 2012
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Mr President today has a special meaning for my country Tuvalu and our people, as I stand in this podium and seize this unique
opportunity on our behalf to tell the world the Future we want for our children and our future generations. The title chosen
for the conference outcome document, “The Future We Want”, is timely and critical in view of the ongoing impacts of recent
multiple global crises which continue to affect us all, especially for a small island developing State (SIDS) like Tuvalu. In this
regard, the need to renew our shared vision and commitment to sustainable development and more importantly to act upon what
has been agreed as new initiatives for sustainable development is crucial and cannot be overemphasised.
Mr President, during the first Earth Summit held in this same city of Rio de Janeiro twenty years ago, and at the follow up Summit
in Johannesburg, South Africa, world leaders adopted ‘Agenda 21’ and the ‘Johannesburg Plan of Implementation’ respectively as
blueprints of global principles and targets for sustainable development. However, after twenty years of global efforts, the
implementation and achievement of the required programs and targets under such blueprints is not very encouraging as many
commitments remain unfulfilled. In this context, more effort and commitment is needed from every facet of the global community
to ensure that critical environment and development issues such as climate change, environment degradation, sustainable energy,
food security, and poverty alleviation are urgently addressed. There is certainly a critical need to do much more to save our planet
and to achieve the future we want!
Mr President, the continued recognition and treatment of Tuvalu and other SIDS as ‘special case’ needs to be strengthened and
honored by the international community. This is crucial as it demonstrates the special developmental challenges and assistance that
we face and need in our effort to achieve sustainable development.
While a lot has been done globally to address climate change, there are still significant gaps that need urgent attention. Developed
countries need to scale-up and provide new and improved climate change mitigation and adaptation financial support to poor and
most vulnerable countries. Developing countries also need to contribute to this global effort. For example, as a least developed
country, Tuvalu has set a renewable energy target of 100 per cent clean power by 2020. Although this may be an insignificant
contribution towards our global effort to mitigate the root cause of global warming due to its size, Tuvalu does not want to
compromise the state of the environment for fast gained economic growth.
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Copenhagen talks break down as developing nations split over 'Tuvalu' protocol
Developing countries have split between those who favour a new protocol proposed by Tuvalu and others who want to
continue with the Kyoto agreement
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 9 December 2009
Negotiations at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen dramatically broke down today after developing countries split between those
who favour a new protocol and others who want to continue with the legally binding Kyoto agreement.
The crisis, partly precipitated by revelations yesterday that the host country Denmark had proposed a text which could have seen
the death of the Kyoto protocol, threatens to divide the powerful G77 plus China group of 130 developing countries.
Tuvalu, a Pacific island state politically and financially close to Australia, proposed a new protocol which would have the advantage
of potentially forcing deeper global emission cuts, but could lead to other developing countries - rather than rich nations - having to
make those cuts.
Many developing nations cherish the legally binding commitments that Kyoto places on industrialised nations and fiercely oppose
proposals that would change this.
Tuvalu was immediately supported by other small island states, including Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and several African states.
But it was opposed by 15 countries, including the powerful nations of China, Saudi Arabia and India. One of the two negotiating
tracks was then suspended for several hours as no consensus could be reached.
Civil society groups including the TckTckTck campaign and 350.org demonstrated outside the meeting in favour of Tuvalu,
chanting: "Tuvalu is the new deal."
Observers said a G77 plus China rift at this early stage in the conference was a serious setback for the big developing countries.
Small island states, least developed countries and Africa have so far worked together in public with the G77.
In a separate development, a new draft text prepared by Denmark and other rich countries is known to make several compromises
to developing countries. Sources close to the Danish prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, today indicated that the text contains
a commitment to complete a legally binding agreement by December 2010. This is significantly more time than is wanted by the UK
prime minister, Gordon Brown, and the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, but is thought to be necessary to complete the legal
The new text also says that countries will work towards agreeing a new commitment period for the Kyoto protocol. This has been
holding up talks because developing countries fear the Kyoto protocol will be abandoned. The document also makes reference to
the present negotiations, in an apparent move to deflect criticisms that the UN process is being undermined by back-room
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Tuvalu NGO says peer review a learning exercise
PRESS RELEASE (29/11)
6th May 2011
The umbrella group for non-government organizations in Tuvalu, the Tuvalu Association of NGOs (TANGO) has described the
peer review of development coordination undertaken in the country over the past week as a learning process.
At the invitation of the government of Tuvalu, a peer review team consisting of government representatives from Tonga (Ms Sinai
Tuitahi) and Vanuatu (Mr Johnson Naviti) representing Forum island countries (FICs) and Mr David Smith from UNESCAP
representing development partners, held discussions during the past week with government ministries, private sector, NGOs,
Members of Parliament and development partners resident in the capital Funafuti. The team also held discussions with the Tuvalu
High Commission and development partners based in Suva, Fiji.
The peer review coordinated by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat under the Cairns Compact for Strengthening Development
Coordination looks at how FICs formulate their priorities, turn them into budgets, implement plans and monitor and report on
results as well as how development partners act collectively and individually to support these national priorities and processes.
Ms Annie Homasi, Coordinator of TANGO told the peer review team, “we consider the peer review as a learning process as we
might find opportunities as we meet with the members of the team who have come from other countries in the region.”
She said: “The government of Tuvalu recognises the capacity of the NGOs in national development so invites us to be represented
on various development committees.”
But Ms Homasi urges the Government to also involve NGOs in the annual national budget discussions.
The Tuvalu peer review team concluded its discussions in Funafuti Tuesday 3rd May. Before leaving Tuvalu, the team presented
their preliminary recommendations to the Government. A draft report of the team’s findings and recommendations will be ready in
two weeks after leaving Tuvalu for the consideration of the Government before a final report in six weeks. The final report will
include recommendations on priority actions to strengthen development coordination in Tuvalu for the Tuvalu government and as
well as for Tuvalu’s development partners.
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Iakoba Taeia Italeli
Governor General since 1 May 2010
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Deputy Prime Minister since 24 December 2010