Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

Human Rights Council – 17th Session

Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers,

 Statement by Australia

Australia thanks the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for his timely report on the right to life in the context of freedom of assembly.

Australia is concerned at the violations of these rights and reports of arbitrary or extrajudicial killings taking place in numerous parts of the world. We deplore the recent injuries and loss of life of peaceful protestors at the hands of security forces, including in Syria, Libya, Iran and Yemen. We strongly support the Special Rapporteur’s view that there should be clearer limits on the use of force against demonstrators.

We will study carefully the Special Rapporteur’s “set of norms” on protecting the right to life in the context of the freedom of assembly. We note the Special Rapporteur’s suggestions on how these could be implemented at the international level, but would welcome further detail on domestic implementation, including the role of National Human Rights Institutions, which we would strongly support.

The Australian Government welcomes the work undertaken by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. Over the past six years, the Special Representative has worked inclusively with States, industry and civil society to build bridges and achieve outcomes.

We congratulate the Special Representative on the culmination of his work: the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Australia supports the Guiding Principles. We have studied them carefully and consider they provide practical and helpful guidance to States in implementing their core duty to respect and promote human rights.

Chapter II of the Guiding Principles is also an excellent reference point for business in pursuing corporate social responsibility in relation to human rights. The Guiding Principles provide the Council with an overarching framework for future work and establishes a global platform for action. We are pleased to see the Guiding Principles already being used as a tool in other fora and by the business community.

States and business enterprises will need to determine how the Guiding Principles will work with existing policies and hard and soft law mechanisms. Appropriate tools including guidelines, particularly for small to medium-sized companies, will also need to be developed.

The Australian Government emphasises the need to secure an extension of this mandate. This will ensure multi-stakeholder dialogue and analysis to maintain and build on the results achieved to date and to inform the Council’s further deliberations on business and human rights.

We thank the Special Representative for his tireless efforts in pursuit of his mandate and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

We also welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

Australia agrees that the lack of recognition of the equal rights of women and men compromises many women’s access to justice across the globe. In Australia it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy or potential pregnancy in areas such as employment, education, government laws and programs, and in the justice system. Australia upholds women’s equal rights to the justice system and promotes non-discriminatory justice outcomes for women both in Australia and through aid programs in partner countries.

We thank the Special Rapporteur for highlighting the importance of achieving women’s right to justice, in particular through judicial protection of women’s rights. Australia would be interested in the Special Rapporteur’s views on ways that the international community can assist individual States to improve women’s access to all levels of justice, whether formal or through informal, community-based services.