There are many ways that the next Australian government could work to implement better human rights policy in the Asia Pacific. Phil Lynch continues his policy recommendations
In JCFADT’s view, the Australian Government should do more to support the ‘vital work’ of NGOs and civil society in the region, including by establishing a scholarship fund for Asia-Pacific human rights defenders. This is positive, but should be supplemented by increasing Australian funding to NGOs in the region to protect human rights at the grassroots level.
JCFADT recommended that Australia adopt a ‘targeted approach’ to promote human rights treaty ratification and implementation in the region, particularly the Pacific. The Pacific has the lowest human rights treaty ratification rate of any global region, notwithstanding that the core human rights treaties provide clear, comprehensive, internationally accepted principles that can enhance governance and improve accountability.
Australia’s capacity and ability to promote human rights abroad is inextricably linked with our domestic human rights situation.
National and regional human rights institutions play a critical role in the promotion and protection of human rights.
Parliamentary understanding of engagement with human rights is essential to the effective institutional protection of human rights. Further, as JCFADT noted, ‘Parliaments in representative and democratic societies, such as Australia, have a responsibility to assist the international community to help strengthen parliamentary systems and protect fundamental human rights…In particular, it should be incumbent on parliamentarians to share their knowledge and expertise in the areas of human rights’. Despite this, the Joint Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, proposed under the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Bill 2010, is not mandated to contribute to or participate in the parliamentary human rights dialogue in the region.
JCFADT further noted that ‘Parliaments from around the world have established different oversight mechanisms’ to ‘monitor national and international human rights obligations and provide suggestions and recommendations on how to best promote and protect human rights standards’. Despite this, the Australian Parliament itself does not play any coordinated, institutionalised role in monitoring, overseeing and following up on the implementation of recommendations and decisions of international human rights mechanisms.
JCFADT recommended that the Australian Government appoint a Special Envoy for Regional Cooperation on Human Rights. This Envoy would be tasked to consult with Asia-Pacific governments and civil society and then report back to the Government on how Australia can best support human rights in the region.
Melbourne: Level 18, 1 Nicholson Street,East Melbourne, VIC, 3002(+61) 03 9752 2771
Sydney: Level 5, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000
Media Enquiries: Curtis Moore firstname.lastname@example.org+61 481 334 013
Melbourne: Level 18, 1 Nicholson Street,East Melbourne, VIC, 3002
Design By: WP Creative