The ANZCMC is greatly saddened by the death of Pacific campaigner Andonia Sema Piau-Lynch. Andy passed away peacefully on Saturday, 29 January 2011 in Port Vila, Vanuatu after a painful battle with cancer. In addition to her crucial work advancing the rights of persons with disabilities and women in Vanuatu and across the Pacific, Andy made important contributions to the International Campaigns to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).
Until 2009, Andy was national coordinator of the Disability Promotion & Advocacy Association (DPA), a local non-governmental organization for persons with disabilities that was runner-up to the 2007 Pacific Human Rights Award.
On behalf of DPA, Andy lobbied for the government of Vanuatu to sign and ratify the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). On 24 April 2008, the national parliament approved ratification and the Vanuatu deposited its instrument of ratification on 23 October 2008, the first Pacific nation to do so.
In February 2008, Andy participated in the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, where she worked with campaigners from Fiji and Papua New Guinea to build support among Pacific states the negotiation of a strong treaty banning cluster bombs. Six months later, Andy spoke at a public talk convened by the ANZCMC in Auckland, which began with a candlelight commemoration to remember victims of cluster bomb attacks (pictured here).
Despite participating in the Oslo Process and adopting the Convention on Cluster Munitions in May 2008, Vanuatu has not yet joined this important agreement. Nor has Papua New Guinea, the country of Andy’s birth.
Vanuatu signed the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997, but only ratified on 16 September 2005, after Andy raised the issue on behalf of DPA. Andy participated in the ICBL delegation to the treaty’s Fifth Meeting of States Parties in Bangkok, Thailand in September 2003.
Andy worked extensively for women’s rights, including the rights of women with disabilities, and drafted the Vanuatu’s first report on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), delivered in July 2004.
To honor Andy’s legacy, the ANZCMC urges the all Pacific nations that have not yet done so to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Mine Ban Treaty, and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
The ANZCMC expresses its deepest condolences to Andy’s husband Professor John Lynch, her sons, her family, and her colleagues.
For more information, see:
- Disability Promotion & Advocacy Association website
- Pacific Disability Forum website
- Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor Vanuatu entry
Photo (c) Mary Wareham, February 2008