Thirteenth session of the Human Rights Council

Media release

27 March 2010

Australia played an active role at the thirteenth session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva (1-26 March), engaging on pressing human rights issues and encouraging respect for international human rights standards.

Australia underscored throughout the Council that the protection and promotion of human rights is a paramount obligation of each and every State.

The Australian delegation reinforced concerns, previously raised by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, about legislation under consideration in Uganda that could provide for life imprisonment or, in some cases, the death penalty for homosexuality. Australia, with Canada and New Zealand, said that “sexual orientation or gender identity must never be the basis for discrimination, abuse, criminal action and penalties, detention or imprisonment, or deprivation of any human right”.

The rights of persons with disabilities was a particular focus of the Council session. Australia was pleased to share its experiences in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in a panel discussion. Australia also participated actively in negotiations to achieve, and co-sponsor, a strong resolution on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Australia demonstrated its commitment to uphold human rights values by co-sponsoring resolutions on: torture; countering terrorism; sexual violence against children; the rights of minority groups; sport free from racism; human rights defenders and human rights education.

We delivered statements expressing Australia’s particular concern at the human rights situations in Iran, Fiji, Burma, Zimbabwe and North Korea. We also co-sponsored resolutions expressing concern at the human rights situations North Korea, Burma and Guinea.

The Human Rights Council is a key human rights body within the United Nations system. The Australian Government will continue to engage actively in the United Nations system to promote and protect human rights internationally.

More information about Australia’s statements to the Human Rights Council

Media inquiries