Civil society engagement and opportunities

Supporting civil society at the Human Rights Council

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 fostering diversity of civil society representatives participating at the HRC, including: all genders, gender identities and sexual orientations; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; and people with disabilities.

Funding is available to support Australian civil society representatives to attend the three HRC sessions in 2019. 

Where civil society are unable to attend other UN human rights 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 in these forums. 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 annual 'DFAT-NGO Forums on Human Rights' to bring civil society representatives together for frank, robust debate. Information on the 2018 event can be found on the DFAT NGO Forum on Human Rights 2018 page. Information on the 2019 event will be made available in due course.

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

Last Updated: 2 November 2018
Many flags at the United Nations.