Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
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Human Rights Council – 17th Session

Resolution on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights

Introduction by Australia

16 June 2011

Australia is pleased to present this draft resolution on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights – otherwise known as NHRIs - for the Human Rights Council’s consideration.

Australia welcomes the invaluable contribution made by NHRIs to the promotion and protection of human rights in the domestic context. We also welcome the important contributions made by NHRIs to the Human Rights Council’s processes. We have witnessed the increasing role of NHRIs in the Universal Periodic Review process, and have seen a significant number of States establishing new NHRIs or seeking to strengthen existing ones, as a result of UPR recommendations. The role and work of NHRIs have also been increasingly recognised by the UN treaty bodies and the Council’s special procedures. We therefore believe it is timely, with this resolution, to focus the Council’s attention on the important role of NHRIs.

We welcome and thank the high number of states from all regions who have co-sponsored this resolution. This includes the African Group and 66 other states. It reaffirms the broad and strong recognition of the unique role and valuable work of national human rights institutions in building capacity and promoting and protecting human rights around the world.

Mr President, the draft resolution will ensure the continued reporting by the Secretary-General to the Council on the achievements, challenges and priorities at the national level regarding the establishment, strengthening and accreditation of NHRIs. The reports will also update the Council about the activities carried out by the Subcommittee on Accreditation of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, in considering and reviewing applications for accreditation of national human rights institutions.

The resolution will also ensure the OHCHR’s continued support for NHRIs. This includes supporting the work of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and its regional coordinating networks. The OHCHR and the ICC play an important role in providing assistance to states and NHRIs, where required and requested. The resolution invites states to contribute voluntary funds to this end.

Australia has recently committed additional funding to the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Asia-Pacific Forum for increased support to NHRIs throughout the Commonwealth and the Asia-Pacific. We are currently looking at additional ways to increase support.

We would like to thank the International Coordinating Committee, as well as national human rights institutions from all regions, for their engagement on this draft resolution. We welcome their support and look forward to continued cooperation on this important issue.

We are pleased to submit this resolution to the Council, and trust that it will continue in the consensus tradition of this subject.