Consider “overarching human rights framework” for foreign policy: parliamentary committee

Australia should consider “overarching human rights framework” for foreign policy, says parliamentary committee A joint parliamentary committee has recommended that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade attach further importance to human rights in its work.

On 21 July, the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade published its Review of the DFAT Annual Report for 2009-10. The Human Rights Law Centre previously made a submission to the review, calling for a human rights-based approach to foreign affairs and the development of a comprehensive, overarching human rights policy. The HRLC also made a range of other recommendations, including as to the use of social media as an important tool of modern human rights diplomacy.

In response to these recommendations, the Joint Committee “notes the potential value of having an overarching human rights framework against which to test foreign policies, and encourages DFAT to further highlight the importance of human rights in its annual report”. The Committee also highlights the value of Australia engaging in bilateral human rights dialogue and involving relevant parliamentarians in these processes.

On the topic of e-diplomacy, the Committee takes note of DFAT’s limited resources but, consistent with the HRLC submission, recommends that DFAT “make stronger efforts to capitalise on the potential offered by modern communications technology in terms of the dissemination and collection of information, and make greater efforts at understanding future e-diplomacy opportunities”.

The Government has not yet responded to the Committee report.