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

Human Rights Council – 22nd Regular Session

Item 3 General Debate

8 March 2013

 

Australia thanks the High Commissioner for her thematic reports, and we reiterate our strong support for the work and independence of her Office.

Australia welcomes the High Commissioner’s call for States to prioritise the establishment of democracy, and we agree that, once established, the maintenance of democracy is a challenge that requires constant vigilance. We call on States to implement the recommendations in the High Commissioner’s recent report, and particularly to strengthen the rule of law through measures such as appropriate institutional checks and balances, avenues to ensure accountability, and effective opportunities for civil society to participate in decision-making structures. As our Prime Minister noted at the Bali Democracy Forum in November last year, “Human rights are most secure where government is limited by constitutions and laws, where powers are separated, where free and fair elections are the norm.”

Around the world, we have witnessed the transformative power of the exercise of freedoms of expression, assembly and opinion. Australia calls on States to engage in a dialogue with civil society, respecting the exercise of these freedoms and giving due consideration to the issues raised. Australia supports the High Commissioner’s views relating to the most important components of best practice in relation to peaceful protests.

Australia continues to be concerned about the tenuous human rights situations faced by persons belonging to minorities, and we support the High Commissioner’s call for all parties to advance minority rights and eliminate discrimination. In Australia, we celebrate and value the benefits of our cultural diversity. Our National Anti-Racism Strategy highlights the Government’s intolerance for racism and discrimination, and empowers government and civil society to be agents of change.

Finally, we welcome the constructive discussions of the second session of the Inter-Governmental Working Group on private military and security companies. We note the existing and potential options contained in the agreed conclusions to address concerns raised during those discussions and, in this context, reiterate our support for the Montreux Process and the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers.