Samoa was the first Pacific Island State to secure the right to self-determination and independence in Oceania during the 20th century (1962). Samoa’s population is estimated at 198,414 people. The demographics of Samoa are: Samoan 96%, Euronesians 2% (persons of European and Polynesian ancestry), and other 1.9%. Through decades of direct action in non-violent protest via the Mau movement, combined with repeated delegations to the League of Nations and later the United Nations, and in the face of violent oppression, the Indigenous Peoples of Samoa secured a seat at the United Nations as a full member in 1976. Samoa originally abstained in the vote to adopt the UNDRIP in 2007; however, they have since expressed their support.
When Samoa achieved its independence, it created a modern nation state upholding the rule of law. However, Samoa retained the fa’a Samoa (traditional culture) in political structures and in its Constitution. Matai (traditional chiefs) are able to stand for election to the Fono (unicameral parliament). The Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) has been in power since 1982 and has supported specific steps towards universal values of equality. Universal suffrage was introduced in 1990, granting women the right to vote for the first time. In 2013, the Constitution was amended guaranteeing women five seats in the Fono. The Komesina o Sulufaiga(Ombudsman) Act 2013 expanded the mandate of the Komesina o Sulufaiga Act from 1989 onwards to include the National Human Rights Institution of Samoa (NHRI). The independent institution was given three main functions: good governance, human rights and a special investigation unit.