Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

UN Human Rights Council – 20th Session

Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Racism

3 July 2012


We welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur on Racism and we take this opportunity to reiterate Australia’s commitment to eliminating all forms of racial discrimination.

We agree with the Special Rapporteur that States have a crucial role in establishing preventative measures against racism.

Legal sanctions against racism, while important, are not in themselves effective unless equally robust preventative measures are adopted and implemented.

For example, Australia has legislation outlawing discrimination on the basis of race, colour, descent or ethnic origin, but our national experience suggests that these legal measures work best when combined with a comprehensive suite of policy measures to prevent, rather than simply punish, racism.

It is in this context that we also endorse the Special Rapporteur’s views on the importance of national action plans to combat racism.

As part of our national multicultural policy, Australia has established a National Anti-Racism Partnership to design and deliver a National Anti-Racism Strategy, which will be Australia’s action plan to address racism.

The Strategy incorporates research and consultation, education, public awareness and youth engagement and is a partnership between government and non-government bodies, led by Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner.

Only national action plans that bring together the full range of legislative, educational and other tools at States disposal can have a real and lasting impact on eliminating racism.

We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s acknowledgement of the relationship between socio-economic inequality and racial discrimination and that the structural nature of poverty reinforces structural discrimination. We would welcome any further views from the Special Rapporteur on concrete actions that States can take to address this issue.

We also value the Special Rapporteur’s appreciation of the role of National Human Rights Institutions in combatting racism domestically and would welcome any examples the Special Rapporteur could provide of best practice in this regard.