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Thirteenth session of the Human Rights Council

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Media Release

Media release

Australia played an active role at the thirteenth session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva (1-26 March), engaging on pressing human rights issues and encouraging respect for international human rights standards.

Australia underscored throughout the Council that the protection and promotion of human rights is a paramount
obligation of each and every State.

The Australian delegation reinforced concerns, previously raised by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, about
legislation under consideration in Uganda that could provide for life imprisonment or, in some cases, the death
penalty for homosexuality. Australia, with Canada and New Zealand, said that "sexual orientation or gender
identity must never be the basis for discrimination, abuse, criminal action and penalties, detention or
imprisonment, or deprivation of any human right".

The rights of persons with disabilities was a particular focus of the Council session. Australia was pleased to
share its experiences in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in a
panel discussion. Australia also participated actively in negotiations to achieve, and co-sponsor, a strong
resolution on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Australia demonstrated its commitment to uphold human rights values by co-sponsoring resolutions on: torture;
countering terrorism; sexual violence against children; the rights of minority groups; sport free from racism;
human rights defenders and human rights education.

We delivered statements expressing Australia's particular concern at the human rights situations in Iran, Fiji,
Burma, Zimbabwe and North Korea. We also co-sponsored resolutions expressing concern at the human rights
situations North Korea, Burma and Guinea.

The Human Rights Council is a key human rights body within the United Nations system. The Australian
Government will continue to engage actively in the United Nations system to promote and protect human rights

More information about Australia's statements to the Human Rights Council

Media inquiries

  • DFAT Media Liaison - 02 6261 1555
Last Updated: 9 October 2009
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