Australia: member of the United Nations Human Rights Council 2018-2020

On 16 October 2017, in New York, the General Assembly elected Australia to serve on the Human Rights Council, the United Nations body responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. Our inaugural membership reflects our commitment to the aims and purposes of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the ongoing promotion and protection of human rights.

Video: Australia's HRC membership

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warned that this film may contain images of deceased people. Additional footage supplied with thanks to: The Australian Department of Defence, the Department of Social Services, the Australian Human Rights Commission, the High Court of Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Pacific Sports Partnerships; and the Parliament of Australia.

Launch of Australia’s inaugural Human Rights Council Membership

Then Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon Julie Bishop MP launched Australia’s UN Human Rights Council (HRC) membership at a reception at Parliament House on Wednesday 7 February 2018, in the presence of Slovenia’s Ambassador to Australia, Her Excellency Ms Helena Drnovsek Zorko. Slovenia held the HRC Presidency in 2018.

See caption.
Then Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop (centre) with Human Rights Commissioner Mr Edward Santow, Disability Discrimination Commissioner Mr Alastair McEwin, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, Ambassador of Slovenia HE Ms Helena Drnovsek Zorko, National Children’s Commissioner Ms Megan Mitchell and Sex Discrimination Commissioner Ms Kate Jenkins (DFAT/Patrick Taylor)

The reception was an opportunity to celebrate Australia’s inaugural membership with representatives from member-nations of the Human Rights Council, commissioners from the Australian Human Rights Commission, parliamentarians and civil society organisations.

Australia’s Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), gave Australia’s inaugural address to the HRC as a member on 26 February 2018.

As the first country from the Pacific region to serve on the Council, Australia has the opportunity to amplify the voices of our neighbours and bring a unique Indo-Pacific perspective to the Council. Australia is working with partners to understand current challenges, listening to civil society and state concerns, and advocating for stronger human rights around the world. Foreign Minister Marise Payne, at the UN General Assembly in 2018, reinforced the importance of Australia’s HRC membership.

The reception also showcased Slovenia’s ‘My Piece for Peace’ exhibition, an international initiative under the patronage of the President of Slovenia. Through the creative work of children, the exhibition is intended to contribute to greater solidarity, tolerance, understanding, and openness towards all people.

Last Updated: 26 February 2018

Foreign Minister Marise Payne delivers Australia’s National Statement at the UN General Assembly in the General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters in New York, 28 September 2018.

"Australia will bring a principled and pragmatic approach to our term on the Human Rights Council."

— Then Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop, officially launches Australia’s candidacy to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2018-20 term.