Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council 16th Session

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Annual Report

Statement made by Ms Miranda Brown

3 March 2011

Australia thanks the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for her annual report. At the outset, I would like to say how impressed we have been by the High Commissioner’s leadership and public statements on events unfolding across the Middle East, including her response to the gross human rights violations in Libya.

Australia deeply values the independence of OHCHR and continues to work actively towards protecting the independence of both the Office and Special Procedures of the Council, including as part of the HRC Review process.

In January, Australia committed $2.35 million in funding to OHCHR. We are particularly grateful for the ongoing work of OHCHR human rights field officers engaged in human rights promotion and protection in insecure and hardship environments.

OHCHR’s work with DPKO, DPA and others to integrate human rights across the UN peace and security agenda is admirable. Australia has worked actively through the UN to build international consensus on a need for “protection of civilians” peacekeeper mandates. We therefore particularly welcome OHCHR’s efforts with the Security Council in this regard.

OHCHR’s work with and inside of UN peacekeeping missions remains invaluable. We also recognise important efforts by OHCHR to mainstream human rights into humanitarian assistance including with OCHA and through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC).

We look forward to OHCHR developing a strong working relationship with the UN’s newest entity - UN Women - including in relation to the link between human rights and international peace and security.

Various OHCHR initiatives throughout the year aimed at ending sexual violence against women are particularly welcomed by Australia including the High-Level Panel which engaged directly with victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

We thank OHCHR for ongoing support to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Office’s work with National Human Rights Institutions on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a good example of how to engage NHRIs in international human rights mechanisms.

We take this opportunity to signal our support for furthering the Responsibility to Protect principle in close partnership with OHCHR. We look forward to Commissioner Pillay visiting Australia in May 2011.