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Human Rights Council - 25th Regular Session

Panel on the Promotion & Protection of Civil Society Space
Statement by Australia

11 March 2014


Australia welcomes this Panel discussion on the importance of promoting and protecting civil society space.

Australia acknowledges civil society’s role in encouraging the promotion and scrutiny of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. We value the work of civil society in reporting on human rights situations on the ground; delivering aid to improve human rights; delivering services; and making governments more effective, accountable and transparent.

The Australian Government consults actively with civil society. For example, Australia engages with civil society on human rights matters through regular and ad hoc mechanisms for consultation. Our Annual NGO Human Rights Forum gives the opportunity for Government-NGO exchange of information in a consultative setting. We also engage with civil society in the lead-up to and following bilateral human rights dialogues, and through our aid program.

Australia recognises the emergence of an informed and engaged civil society as an important development outcome in its own right, enabling poor people to claim their rights, and helping to shape development policies and partnerships and oversee their implementation.

Australia’s aid program works with Australian, international and local CSOs to promote development and increase the impact of our aid. CSOs bring particular strengths including long involvement in communities and the ability to work in areas which are hard to access or conflict-affected. Our aid program also supports volunteer programs allowing Australian citizens to share their expertise with organisations in developing countries.

Australia strongly supports the work of national human rights institutions. These are critical for monitoring human rights situations and are a key element of a robust domestic human rights framework. Australia supports efforts to ensure the voice and input of national human rights institutions is heard.

We would welcome the Panel’s views on practical steps the Human Rights Council could take to support States in developing constructive and complementary partnerships with civil society.