Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


UN Human Rights Council – 21st Session

Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert
on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia

Statement by Australia, 26 September 2012

Australia welcomes the Independent Expert’s comprehensive report on Somalia’s human rights situation in the period covered by the report, September 2011 to August 2012.

Supported by the strengthened attention of the international community, Somalia’s recent political and security progress offers a clear opportunity for a more stable, democratic Somalia and Australia shares the cautious optimism of the international community about Somalia's future prospects.

Australia concurs with the views of the Independent Expert that human rights must be at the heart of efforts to develop peace and normalcy for Somalia’s citizens and strongly endorses the Independent Expert’s principal recommendation that the new Somali Government develop a road map on how it seeks to improve the human rights situation in the country.

Developing an overarching framework early for the protection of human rights, with clear implementation plans and strong performance benchmarks, would send an unambiguous message to the people of Somalia that human rights are a core priority for the new Government. Similarly, the early ratification of all core human rights instruments to which Somalia is not yet a party, as recommended by the Independent Expert, would also provide an important statement of intention.

Australia notes the Independent Expert’s recommendation that the road map focuses not only on civil and political rights, but also on economic, social and cultural rights, particularly the right to education and health. Australia, as one of the five largest humanitarian donors to the Horn of Africa in 2011, having provided more than A$61 million to Somalia, will remain focused on health and basic needs. Australia echoes others who have today asked for the Independent Expert’s views on how best to balance the significant competing priorities.

Australia strongly endorses the Independent Expert’s comments on the priority of restoring good governance and the rule of law. While there has been a welcome reduction in piracy attacks in recent months, Australia supports a strong focus on justice system reform and re-establishment of the rule of law, as reflected in our support for the UNODC’s Counter Piracy Program.

Somalia’s new political dispensation provides the opportunity to develop more inclusive, legitimate and representative governance structures. Australia would welcome further elaboration from the Independent Expert on efforts to ensure the inclusion of women and minority groups in the political process.