Senator Marise Payne – responding to a petition requesting Australia resign from and cease funding to the UN Human Rights Council

photo of Senator Marise Payne
December 2, 2019

When the United States withdrew from the HRC in Jun 2018, Australia expressed our disappointment. Australia shares many of the concerns held by the US about the UNHRC, particularly its anti-Israel bias, and we have consistently supported efforts to address other matters of contention.

Full speech

Dear Mr O’Brien

Thank you for your letter of 5 August 2019, regarding the petition requesting Australia follow the lead of the United States and resign from and cease funding the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), referred to me as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Australia has been a constructive HRC member since 2018, reflecting our commitment to advancing human rights in the Indo-Pacific and more broadly. We believe that the promotion and protection of human rights globally, including though the HRC, makes us safer, more prosperous and more secure. In the most recent HRC session in Geneva from 9­27 September, Australia collaborated our key likeminded partners to respond to serious human rights concerns in specific countries, and protect important human rights issues worldwide, including religious freedom and the abolition of the death penalty.

When the United States withdrew from the HRC in Jun 2018, Australia expressed our disappointment. Australia shares many of the concerns held by the US about the UNHRC, particularly its anti-Israel bias, and we have consistently supported efforts to address other matters of contention. We acknowledge US concerns with the membership of the HRC, but have taken the approach to remain on the Council and scrutinise countries with questionable human rights records. For example, on 23 September 2019 Australia led a joint statement on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia on behalf of 25 countries.

I thank you for your concerns and assure you that Australia is committed to progressing meaningful reform to enable the HRC to more effectively carry out its role.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Payne(Petition No. EN0671)

Link to parliamentary Hansard

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