United Nations (UN)
Australian statement for the Item 8 General Debate, 18 March 2021
DRAFT national statement, Item 8
Australia reaffirms the significance and relevance of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
In particular, we reaffirm our unwavering support for article one, which is a clear and unequivocal expression of the commitment of all states to fulfil their obligations to promote universal respect for, and observance and protection of, all human rights and fundamental freedoms, the importance of international cooperation in the field of human rights, and the primary responsibility of governments to protect and promote human rights.
Regrettably, over the course of this session of the Council, we have seen repeated attempts by some states to avoid these commitments. States have attempted to use the veil of sovereignty or non-interference to shield themselves from international view.
Australia will not ignore human rights violations, and neither should this Council, its members or observers; the Council is mandated to address these situations, including through scrutiny and accountability.
We applaud the large number of states who, despite their own domestic challenges, remain committed to the principles of the VDPA and to meeting their international obligations, and who engage openly with the Council and its mechanisms. We urge others to follow their lead.
 Article VDPA: “The World Conference on Human Rights reaffirms the solemn commitment of all States to fulfil their obligations to promote universal respect for, and observance and protection of, all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, other instruments relating to human rights, and international law. The universal nature of these rights and freedoms is beyond question.
“In this framework, enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights is essential for the full achievement of the purposes of the United Nations.
“Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings; their protection and promotion is the first responsibility of Governments.”