UN Human Rights Council Final Session

  • Media release
15 October 2020

Australia is proud of our consistent and strong record in promoting and protecting human rights as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC).

The 45th session of HRC has concluded in Geneva, Australia's final session as a member.

Australia's contributions as an HRC member from 2018-2020 reflect our values and our commitment to advancing human rights globally. As a proud liberal democracy, we believe in the indivisibility, universality and inalienability of individual rights.

In a recorded address at the opening of HRC45 in September, I stressed Australia's commitment to the international rules, norms and institutions that support stability and prosperity, underpin human rights and enable global cooperation. Through our diplomatic network, Australia remains committed to advancing the rights of women and girls, the rights of indigenous peoples around the world, the abolition of the death penalty, the rights of persons with disabilities, equality for LGBTI persons and freedom of expression, the media and religion or belief.

As we have done throughout our membership, we spoke during HRC45 frankly and consistently on human rights issues around the globe. Australia has raised serious concerns including in relation to the DPRK, Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Myanmar. We expressed our deep concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus during the HRC45 Urgent Debate.

Australia, together with Indonesia, led a joint statement on family violence, joined by states from all regional groups. This was a strong show of support for the priority we put on gender equality and the human rights of women and girls.

Supported by all 16 Pacific states, we delivered a Pacific joint statement on the importance of diverse voices being heard on the HRC. Australia has been pleased to see Pacific representation on the HRC increase during our membership term, with Fiji and the Republic of the Marshall Islands joining the Council in recent years.

We congratulate France and the United Kingdom for their election to the UN Human Rights Council from 2021 to 2023 as the representatives from Australia's regional grouping. We look forward to working with them more closely than ever to further advance our shared democratic, liberal values and to bring attention to egregious human rights abuses, including by HRC member states.

Australia also joined a cross-regional group to express our concerns over politically motivated arbitrary arrest, detention and sentencing of foreign nationals.

I have instructed Australia's Ambassadors and High Commissioners to ensure engagement on human rights issues is a core part of the fabric of our bilateral relationships.

While we complete our three-year term at the end of 2020, Australia will continue to play an active and constructive role as a Council observer and pursue our important work to advance human rights internationally.

My address to HRC45 on 14 September 2020 is available here.

Media enquiries