Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council – 21st Regular Session

Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights

10 September 2012

Australia congratulates the High Commissioner on her reappointment and thanks the her for her report and for her sustained efforts to strengthen global human rights.

The independence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is central to its effectiveness and Australia reiterates our support for this independence. We call on all states to continue to support The High Commissioner in her responsibilities for United Nations human rights activities under the direction and authority of the Secretary-General.

The High Commissioner has raised in her report a number of cases where the death penalty has been used this year. Australia shares the High Commissioner’s concern at the continued use of the death penalty. Consistent with our long-standing opposition to this form of punishment, Australia urges all member states that have not yet abolished the death penalty to implement an immediate moratorium, with a view to joining the vast majority of states where the death penalty has been abolished.

We welcome the High Commissioner’s call to support global efforts to address discrimination and advance gender equality. Australia recognises the important role of women in strengthening the rule of law and advancing human rights. Australia is committed to ensuring that women, both in Australia and throughout the world, are equal before the law and experience equal opportunities to participate in governance and decision-making. Over the next 10 years, Australia will commit $320 million to the Pacific Gender Equality Initiative: Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development. The initiative will enhance women’s access to justice, particularly with regard to domestic violence, by expanding services for victims and strengthening legislative protection. The Initiative also aims to increase the representation of women, particularly in leadership and decision-making roles, in political and governance institutions.

We continue to encourage the High Commissioner in her valuable support to states in preparing for and implementing their Universal Periodic Reviews. The Office's assistance in this regard is crucial, especially for states without permanent representation in Geneva. We welcome the work the Office is already undertaking to support states to implement UPR recommendations.