World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Nauru : Overview
|Publisher||Minority Rights Group International|
|Cite as||Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Nauru : Overview, 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4954ce21c.html [accessed 23 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Nauru is a raised coral atoll in the Pacific Ocean. A large part of the island was composed of phosphate.
Main languages: Nauruan, English
Main religions: Christianity (mainly Nauru Congregational Church)
Nauru is occupied by a Micronesian population, and until the effective closure of the phosphate mine in 2005 and collapse of the Nauru Government, there were many migrant workers, mainly from neighbouring Kiribati and Tuvalu.
Nauru became independent in 1968. Its relatively early independence within the Pacific stemmed from the possibility of it developing its phosphate resources to enable sustainable development.
Nauru has a single Parliament of eighteen seats. Phosphate mining gave Nauru a very high national income, though unevenly distributed, a massive dependence on imported goods (including food and, occasionally, water), the largest proportion of migrant workers in the Pacific region and serious health and environmental problems. The effective closure of the phosphate mine in 2005 occurred at the same time as the collapse of government administration, an extreme example of the 'resource curse', as Nauru became the first 'failed state' in the Pacific. Migrant workers were repatriated only with Taiwanese financial assistance.
Nauruans dominate government employment but Asians dominate the small private sector. The government has opposed the migration of families, provided low wages for all expatriate workers, discouraged long-term residence (to the extent that only those born of Nauruans, or of Nauruans and other Pacific Islanders may become citizens) and offered poor conditions of employment, matters of concern in the countries of migrant origin. Some governments discouraged their citizens from taking up employment on Nauru. However this era has now ended as Nauru has reverted towards a subsistence economy.
Current state of minorities and indigenous peoples
The collapse of the Nauruan economy in 2005 resulted in Nauru becoming party to Australia's 'Pacific solution' whereby asylum seekers reaching Australian waters by boat were re-located in Nauru for processing. Nauru was thus a recipient of substantial Australian aid. Refugees were located in two camps in the inhospitable interior of the island and access to journalists was effectively denied. In 2006 Nauru was nevertheless critical of Australia's slow processing of refugees.
Although not explicitly minority/indigenous issue, the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Nauru has been widely criticised by human rights organisations in Australia, as the immigration processing centres were expressly removed from any independent judicial review or the supervision of Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.(HREOC).