Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


UN Human Rights Council – 22nd Session
High Level Panel on Vienna Declaration and Program of Action
25 February 2013


Australia welcomes the opportunity to participate in this event commemorating the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA). We thank the speakers and panellists for sharing their views and experiences, which provided a valuable illustration of the role and impact of the VDPA.

With its emphasis on human rights as indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, as well as the promotion of practical measures to improve human rights observance world-wide, the adoption of the VDPA on 25 June 1993 marked a key moment in the history of the human rights movement.

A particular achievement we would like to highlight is the crucial role the VDPA has played in encouraging and promoting the work of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). Today, NHRIs are one of the most important actors for the promotion and protection of human rights at the national level – empowering individuals to understand and exercise their human rights and playing a vital role in ensuring transparency and the development of a democratic society.

Australia has been, and will continue to be, a strong and consistent advocate for the work of NHRIs. This commitment was reiterated in Australia’s latest National Human Rights Action Plan released in December 2012. We value and welcome the active role of Australia’s NHRI, the Australian Human Rights Commission, in human rights advocacy and implementation at home, as well as more broadly.

Internationally we are committed to promoting human rights and human rights education through our active support of the work of the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Asia Pacific Forum, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the International Coordinating Committee, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Pacific Islands Forum. And we are pleased to lead the HRC’s resolutions on National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights.

Australia also provides strong support to a number of national human rights institutions in our region, for example, through the Asia Pacific Forum and, in particular, through direct support for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which works to protect, promote and monitor human rights across Afghanistan.

The VDPA also saw the creation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and we would like to acknowledge the valuable work of successive High Commissioners in advocating for human rights around the world. This work is ongoing and intensive. It is therefore important that the OHCHR is resourced and funded sufficiently to ensure it is able to support adequately the UN’s human rights work.

Thank you.