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
The Council considered a number of serious human rights situations during
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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