UN Human Rights Council – High Level Segment

  • Speech
02 March 2022

Thank you, Mr President, Secretary-General, High Commissioner, Excellencies and distinguished delegates.

Australia remains a strong supporter of the multilateral system, the central tenet of which is the United Nations Charter.

The Charter has been a pillar for global peace and security since it was ratified seven decades ago.

A resilient and effective multilateral human rights system makes the world safer and more secure for all, with respect, promotion, and protection of human rights at its core.

Australia condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia's unprovoked and unacceptable attack on Ukraine and its people.

Russia has seriously breached international law and the UN Charter.

We share the High Commissioner's concerns about the heightened risk of serious violations and abuses of human rights due to the deteriorating situation in Ukraine.

We call on Russia to cease violence and hostilities.

Australia is deeply concerned by the humanitarian cost that will be borne by the Ukrainian people as a result of this conflict.

We are preparing assistance to support humanitarian relief through the UN and international agencies.

Australia recognises the essential role that the Human Rights Council plays. We reiterate our firm and enduring support as an observer state, and our commitment to being a constructive and open partner in human rights.

A Council that is fit-for-purpose, well-resourced, effective, transparent, and accountable to member states is critical.

Australia supports the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner and the independence of this office.

The success of the Human Rights Council depends not only on its institutional strength and resilience, but also, crucially, on the responsibility of its members to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Australia encourages cooperation and engagement from all states at the Council, but we must also acknowledge that the conduct of some states continues to fall short of the standards we expect.

In this respect, Australia welcomes new Council members and their pledges to engage in the Council in good faith, a legacy of our own term on the Council from 2018 to the end of 2020.

We welcomed the High Commissioner's undertaking in the Council's 48th Session to publicly release her Office's assessment on the allegations of egregious human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Publication of this material as soon as possible is vital, given the lack of transparency from China surrounding these extremely serious abuses.

We will continue to advocate for the protection, promotion, and respect for human rights across our bilateral, regional and multilateral engagements, particularly in our Indo-Pacific Region.

Australia continues to be particularly concerned by the deteriorating human rights situations in the DPRK, Afghanistan and Ethiopia.

We are deeply troubled by the situation in Myanmar where, one year since the military coup, the Myanmar people's most basic human rights have been brutally suppressed. 

We continue to work with ASEAN partners and others in the international community towards a peaceful, democratic transition in Myanmar.

Diversity of membership in the Human Rights Council is also vital if we are to understand the full range of human rights challenges before us and respond effectively to them.

Australia is focused on ensuring that the Indo-Pacific region is represented in both the issues considered by the Council, and its decision-making.

We thank Fiji, the first ever Pacific Island Council member, for their contributions to the Council over the last three years, including Ambassador Khan's tenure as President. We look forward to continuing to work with the Marshall Islands as an important voice for the Pacific this year and wish Timor-Leste every success for their aspirations to become a Council member in the future.

Australia continues to be committed to enhancing a Pacific voice on human rights and social inclusion. 

In facilitating the Pacific Satellite Summit, of the Global Disability Summit, this month Australia has sought not just to elevate Pacific voices but ensure that the social inclusion and human rights of people with a disability remains a priority in our region.

Social inclusion remains a priority of Australia's human rights engagement. We will promote and advance the rights of indigenous peoples globally and in our own country.

We will champion equal rights and an end to violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons.

We will continue our strong advocacy for the rights of women and girls, especially for full enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights and an end to gender-based violence and discrimination.

We will continue to oppose the death penalty, in all circumstances, for all people.

It is deeply flawed and unfair as it is used disproportionately against the poor, people with intellectual disabilities and minority groups. 

Australia is committed to responding to violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Australia will use its expanded autonomous sanctions laws to take timely action and deter those responsible for gross violations of international human rights.

Our recent reforms enable Australia to sanction people and entities responsible for, or complicit in, egregious conduct, including grave human rights abuses and malicious cyber activity. 

These measures are appropriate, effective, and legitimate, fully compliant with international law. 

The lasting global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will make adherence to human rights critical to future peace and stability.

In pursuing global recovery, Australia reaffirms its commitment to sustainable development that places human rights at the centre of achieving sustainable and inclusive development.

Australia reaffirms our strong call on all member states to protect, respect and promote human rights, particularly in times of crisis.

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