Australia has once again played an active role at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, acting as an advocate for the protection and promotion of human rights internationally.
During the 14th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (31 May - 18 June 2010), the Australian delegation urged States to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and, in particular, to remove criminal penalties, including the death penalty, for offences on the basis of sexual orientation.
Australia expressed its deep concern at human rights abuses faced by women around the world, including through violence and preventable maternal deaths, and restated its unwavering commitment to promoting and protecting women’s human rights.
Australia, along with a record 108 countries, supported a joint statement on maternal mortality which re-confirmed each country’s commitment to improve maternal health.
The Australian delegation also acknowledged that more needs to be done to address the pregnancy and childbirth needs of Indigenous Australian women.
The focus on the human rights of women at the Council session was welcome.
Australia co-sponsored a number of resolutions, including on violence against women, trafficking in persons, internally-displaced persons, enforced disappearances, freedom of religion and the important role of prevention in ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights.
The Australian delegation also delivered statements covering human rights issues on culture, migrants, transnational corporations, education, secret detention, the independence of judges, countering terrorism and freedom of expression.
The Council considered a number of serious human rights situations during this session.
In recognition of the seriousness of the situation in Iran, Australia, along with 54 other countries, issued a joint statement expressing concern at the lack of progress in the protection of human rights.
Separately, the Australian delegation registered Australia’s deep concern at Iran’s use of capital punishment, in particular for juvenile offenders; violation of political and media freedoms; and discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities such as Baha'is.
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