Australia and Human Rights Leadership: Initiatives to Promote Human Rights at Home and Abroad

On 10 December 2009, the Centre released a paper entitled Human Rights Leadership: Initiatives to Promote Human Rights at Home and Abroad.  The paper, which was provided to the Federal Government in September, proposes 20 initiatives which Australia could take to strengthen a range of normative, preventative and remedial mechanisms to protect human rights at the local, regional and international levels. The proposed initiatives are designed to respond to existing human rights challenges and to capitalise on emerging human rights opportunities.

They include:

  • the development of a comprehensive, integrated strategy on human rights and foreign policy;
  • the development of a human rights agenda for Australia’s UN Security Council candidacy;
  • ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, together with a range of other human rights instruments;
  • the development of a detailed plan and consultative process to prepare for the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Australia;
  • the nomination of Australian experts to UN treaty bodies and as Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council;
  • the appointment of an Australian Human Rights Ambassador to promote human rights across all areas of foreign policy and development cooperation, and to ensure a coordinated and coherent approach to human rights at the international level;
  • the provision of resources to assist Australian NGOs to engage with the UN human rights system;
  • the funding of an Oceania network of human rights NGOs;
  • the provision of resources and technical assistance to build human rights capacity in the Pacific, including by promoting treaty ratification and the establishment of national human rights institutions and a regional human rights mechanism;
  • expansion of the AusAID Human Rights Small Grants Scheme;
  • the establishment of an Australian Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights;
  • measures to operationalise the UN framework on business and human rights at the international and domestic levels;
  • the enactment of comprehensive national equality legislation to promote substantive equality and address systemic discrimination; and
  • the resourcing of Australian human rights education and advocacy.