Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


UN Human Rights Council – 22nd Session
Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Statement by Australia, 1 March 2013

Australia thanks the High Commissioner for her report and for her ongoing efforts in advocating for human rights around the world. We would also like to acknowledge, in this 20th anniversary year of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the valuable work of successive High Commissioners to strengthen the global human rights system.

In this context, we welcome the High Commissioner’s report on Strengthening the Human Rights Treaty Body System, and echo her call for the intergovernmental process in New York to embrace a multi-stakeholder approach and respect the mandate of the treaty bodies to decide on their working methods.

Australia believes that it is important to approach treaty body strengthening from a holistic and harmonised perspective, in a manner that recognises the independence of treaty bodies and treaty body members’ expertise in relation to those treaties for which they are responsible and have been elected by States.

Strengthening and improving the efficiency of the treaty body system must be a priority for us all, particularly given serious resource constraints across the UN system and the essential role the Committees play in enhancing people’s enjoyment of their rights.

We welcome the practical recommendations to strengthen further the promotion and protection human rights outlined in the High Commissioner’s report: including the greater use of technology to enhance the visibility and accessibility of the treaty body system, as well as the adoption of an aligned consultation process during the elaboration of general comments. Australia supports measures that will improve the efficiency of Committees across the full range of their work, from treaty body reporting to their consideration of individual communications, while maintaining the integrity of the system as a whole.

Australia has valued the opportunity to participate in the intergovernmental process and will continue to do so in a constructive and meaningful way. We would encourage all stakeholders to engage in the same way.

We recognise the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ challenging funding situation and actively support ongoing efforts to ensure the OHCHR can fulfil its mandate in light of growing demands.

As we have said many times before, the independence of the OHCHR is central to its effectiveness and we again put on the record our support for this independence, in particular in the context of financial constraints.

Australia welcomes and supports the OHCHR’s ongoing efforts to prioritise and streamline its work, to implement its results-based management framework, and to ensure maximum efficiency in this tight budgetary climate.