Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Australia is proud of our consistent and strong record of promoting and protecting human rights as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC45).
The HRC’s 45th session has concluded in Geneva, Australia’s last session as a member.
Australia’s contribution as a member of the HRC from 2018-2020 reflects our values and commitment to advancing human rights globally. As a pride of liberal democracy, we believe in the inalienable, universality and inalienable rights of the individual.
In a recorded speech at the opening of HRC45 in September, I emphasized Australia’s commitment to international rules, norms and institutions that promote stability and prosperity, support human rights and enable global cooperation. Through our diplomatic network, Australia remains committed to advancing the rights of women and girls, the rights of indigenous peoples around the world, the abolition of the death penalty, the rights of persons with disabilities, equality for LGBTI people and freedom of expression, media and religion or belief. .
As we have done during our membership, we spoke during HRC45 candidly and consistently about human rights issues around the world. Australia has raised serious concerns including with regard to the DPRK, Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Myanmar. We express our deep concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus during the HRC45 Urgent Debate.
Australia, together with Indonesia, is leading the joint statement on family violence, which is being joined by countries from all regional groups. This demonstrates strong support for the priority we place on gender equality and the human rights of women and girls.
Supported by 16 Pacific states, we deliver a joint Pacific statement on the importance of multiple voices being heard at HRC. Australia is pleased to see Pacific representation on the rise in HRC during our membership, with Fiji and the Republic of the Marshall Islands joining the Council in recent years.
We congratulate France and the UK on their selection to the UN Human Rights Council from 2021 to 2023 as representatives of Australia’s regional group. We look forward to working with them more closely than ever to further advance our shared democratic, liberal values and to bring attention to the appalling abuses of human rights, including by HRC member states.
Australia also joined a cross-regional group to express our concern over the politically motivated arbitrary arrest, detention and punishment of foreign nationals.
I have instructed the Australian Ambassador and High Commissioner to ensure that engagement on human rights issues is a core part of the fabric of our bilateral relationship.
As we complete our three-year term by the end of 2020, Australia will continue to play an active and constructive role as Council observer and pursue our important work advancing human rights internationally.
My address to HRC45 on 14 September 2020 is available here.