Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


UN Human Rights Council – 23rd Session

Panel discussion on democracy and the rule of law

Statement by Australia, 11 June 2013

Australia is home to strong democratic institutions, which reflect our deeply embedded belief in the inherent rights of all people to participate in decisions that affect their lives. We recognise the absolute importance of the independence of judges and lawyers, the accountability of governments and the transparency of elections in establishing a free and fair democratic society. And we support the key role of an A-Status national human rights institution in the promotion and protection of human rights. We also reiterate our support of international exchanges such as the Bali Democracy Forum to provide opportunities to share experiences.

We recognise the importance of international cooperation in promoting and securing democracy and the rule of law. A recent report produced by the Australian Civil-Military Centre – Partnering for Peace – details the lessons that Australia has learned in peacekeeping and peace building in Bougainville, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste to that end.

The role of non-governmental organisations in strengthening citizen engagement against corruption is another important element and we are pleased to have worked in productive partnerships with civil society organisations in the Asia Pacific, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and to have signed a five-year Global Strategic Partnership with Transparency International in 2012.

The equal role that women play in democratic societies should also be emphasised. We are pleased to support women to influence national and local politics through initiatives such as the 10-year A$320 million Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program. This program is working to increase Pacific women’s participation in leadership and political roles, and to improve economic opportunities for women through better access to finance and markets.

Finally, we welcome the report of the High Commissioner on common challenges facing States in their efforts to secure democracy and the rule of law. We would welcome further views from the panellists on the unique role of National Human Rights Institutions – in partnership with, but separate to, the work of civil society organisations – in addressing challenges to democracy.