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.
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.