Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


UN Human Rights Council – 20th Session

Australian Statement on the Secretary General’s Report on National Institutions for Human Rights

 and Activities of the International Coordinating Committee in Accreditation.

3 July 2012

Australia welcomes the Secretary-General’s report on the activities carried out in 2011 by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC).

We warmly welcome the range of significant steps the ICC has taken to improve the process for accrediting national human rights institutions, including the active participation of stakeholders such as the ICC’s regional coordinating bodies and civil society. The provision by the ICC’s Subcommittee on Accreditation of specific, tailored recommendations to national institutions seeking accreditation - or whose accreditation is being periodically reviewed – will better ensure timely compliance with the member-state endorsed Paris Principles. A clear, transparent, accountable and responsive accreditation process is essential to enhancing understanding of, and respect for, the important work undertaken by these institutions.

The growing number of applications received by the ICC for accreditation reflects the increasing understanding of the valuable contribution national institutions can make to promoting and protecting human rights domestically. Clearly, governments are increasingly viewing national human rights institutions as valuable partners - as support for their establishment and accreditation grows. We agree with the report’s recommendation that these institutions be provided with as broad a mandate as possible – and that mandates should include rights set out in international, regional and national instruments. While we welcome the valuable role some specialist national institutions play on specific human rights issues, given only one national human rights institution from each country can be accredited to the ICC it is imperative that a broad-based institution with a wide-ranging mandate be able to seek accreditation through the ICC.

We agree with the report’s view that the provision of technical expertise to assist national institutions achieve accreditation is important, particularly if full independence from government - or “A status” – is to be achieved. For this reason Australia supports the capacity-building activities undertaken in our region by the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions. We encourage other member states to also support similar efforts undertaken by other regional bodies.

Australia looks forward to continuing to work with the ICC, its regional coordinating committees and our own national human rights institution.