26 April 1995
MR BRIAN BURDEKIN TO JOIN OFFICE OF UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Mr Brian Burdekin, former Federal Commissioner for Human Rights, will join the United Nations as Special Adviser to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Ayala Lasso, to assist the High Commissioner in promoting national human rights institutions and regional arrangements as well as preventive approaches to human rights. Mr Ayala Lasso is in Australia on an official visit and to attend to the UN Global Cultural Diversity Conference being held in Sydney this week.
Mr Burdekin's service will be for a two-year period. To this end, the Australian Government will make a contribution to the UN fund to support the activities of the Centre for Human Rights.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Gareth Evans, said that Australia is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights internationally. As part of that commitment, Australia strongly supports the development of national institution building measures, on the basis that positive action at the national level is the surest means of improved human rights observance world-wide.
Senator Evans added that Mr Burdekin is pre-eminently qualified to provide advice and assistance to the UN and to other countries on the development of such institutions. He has been recognised in the UN as a leading authority on national human rights institutions.
Mr Burdekin was instrumental in the development of Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, which many countries consider a model from which others can learn. As well, over recent years, Mr Burdekin has made a major contribution to advancing the conceptual framework for national human rights institutions and by providing practical advice to interested countries. As Federal Human Rights Commissioner, he presented a major paper at an international meeting in Paris that ultimately led to the adoption of the "Paris Principles" on the establishment of national human rights institutions in individual countries. These principles were subsequently adopted by the UN's Commission for Human Rights and the UN General Assembly and form the basis for national action to establish such bodies.
Mr Burdekin has participated in a series of UN-sponsored Asia-Pacific Workshops on human rights, including one in Manila last week. Through his efforts he has made a major contribution to Australia's human rights cooperation with a wide range of countries, including France, Canada, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Latvia, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.