Civil society engagement and opportunities

Supporting civil society @ HRC38

Civil society perspectives and analysis are invaluable to Australia in our engagement in the Human Rights Council.  You are invited to provide written submissions in advance of the 39th Session of the Human Rights Council by emailing before 24 August 2018.

Civil society engagement as an HRC Member

Australia values the contribution of civil society to international human rights discourse.

Consultation with civil society, advocacy for civil society participation in UN processes, and promotion of the rights of civil society and human rights defenders will be strong features of our term on the Human Rights Council (HRC).  

Freedom of Expression and protection of human rights defenders

Australia is deeply concerned by the severe deterioration of the situation for Human Rights Defenders worldwide. They make a vital contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, democratic principles, peace and security, and sustainable development.

The Human Rights Council has previously emphasised the importance of creating and maintaining a safe and enabling environment in which civil society can operate, and Australia will continue to advocate strongly in this regard inside the Council and across the UN system. We will work robustly to prevent and address acts of intimidation and reprisals, and speak up when incidents occur.  

Civil society participation in UN processes

During our HRC term, Australia will continue to advocate for the participation of civil society in UN processes. We will pay particular attention to ensuring representation by indigenous persons, women and LGBTI individuals. Where civil society are unable to attend UN processes in their own right, we will look to include them in our delegations where possible.  

Civil society consultations

DFAT is committed to seeking civil society views in advance of each HRC and UN General Assembly Third Committee session. These consultations will help develop our thinking and engagement strategies as an HRC member. We are also interested to hear civil society views ahead of HRC Universal Periodic Reviews of individual countries, held three times a year.

Civil society organisations are encouraged to provide specific recommendations regarding resolutions, statements or the UPR by email to in advance of each session.  

DFAT will continue to conduct an annual 'DFAT-NGO Forum on Human Rights' to bring civil society representatives together for frank, robust debate. More information can be found on the DFAT NGO Forum on Human Rights 2018 page.

We will also conduct smaller group, thematic consultations when appropriate. These arrangements will compliment civil society engagement and consultations by other government agencies.

The Australian Government will continue to conduct consultations to inform Australia's treaty body reporting and appearances.

Many flags at the United Nations.