Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


UN Human Rights Council – 23rd Session

Item 8 – General Debate

Statement by Australia, 10 June 2013

Australia welcomes the Secretary-General’s two reports regarding national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights. On this, the twentieth anniversary of both the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and the “Paris Principles”, we reaffirm our strong and continuing commitment to supporting the work of National Human Rights Institutions.

This Council session we are pleased to, once again, lead the resolution on this subject, reaffirming the importance of establishing and strengthening independent, pluralistic national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights in accordance with the Paris Principles.

In Australia, our National Human Rights Institution, the Human Rights Commission, plays a leading role in the promotion and protection of human rights. It is mandated to receive and take action on discrimination and human rights complaints; to ensure human rights compliance with domestic and international human rights obligations; to undertake human rights education and public awareness; and to work with the government on policy and legislative development. We are pleased to work with the Australian Human Rights Commission in identifying important milestones as well as challenges that remain in human rights protection in Australia.

Australia supports the independent participation of national institutions in our discussions, in national, regional and international forums. We view this as an important function of these institutions and welcome their input. We particularly welcome those national institutions who participate in the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, and encourage other institutions to take up these opportunities.

Australia welcomes the work undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish and strengthen national institutions. We encourage the Office to consult actively with national institutions when developing its workplan and programmes, to ensure the OHCHR activities support and correlate with the work and priorities of national institutions and their regional and international mechanisms.

Finally, we commend the important role of the Subcommittee of Accreditation in assessing national institutions on their conformity with the Paris Principles. We support vigilant and rigorous assessments in granting “A” status, to ensure that only those institutions fully compliant with the Paris Principles may make use of the benefits currently accorded “A” status. We encourage all institutions and governments to work towards full compliance with the Paris Principles.