Advancing human rights

Australia is committed to advancing human rights globally. Men, women and children have the right to fundamental freedoms and to live their lives with dignity. Human rights underpin peace and prosperity.

Australia will promote human rights through constructive bilateral dialogue. Where appropriate, we will work with countries to advance and protect human rights through development assistance and humanitarian support. At times, and especially in the case of gross human rights violations, we will apply sanctions.

Australia is committed to a strong multilateral human rights system. We continue to support the independent mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. We promote efforts to strengthen the Human Rights Council and the wider human rights system. As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2018–2020 term, Australia will:

  • advance the rights of women and girls
  • promote good governance, democratic institutions and freedoms of expression, association, religion and belief
  • promote the rights of people with disabilities
  • advance human rights for indigenous peoples around the globe
  • promote national human rights institutions and capacity building, and
  • advocate the global abolition of the death penalty.

Our development program supports these objectives, especially by tackling gender inequality, promoting disability inclusive development and funding multilateral human rights bodies.

In addition, Australia is committed to protecting and strengthening civil society internationally. We will work to increase the formal participation of civil society in UN processes.

Australia also supports democratic principles, the rule of law, human rights and gender equality through the Commonwealth, which links 52 countries.

Gender equality

Gender inequality undermines global prosperity, stability and security. It contributes to and often exacerbates a range of challenges, including poverty, weak governance and conflict and violent extremism.

Australia’s foreign policy pursues the empowerment of women as a top priority, including through the advocacy of our Ambassador for Women and Girls.

We fund development programs that support improved access to education, sexual and reproductive health services, employment and financial services for women and girls. Working with partners, we encourage women to be leaders in their communities and parliaments. We strive to end violence against women and girls.

Some of our programs include:

  • Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development ($320 million, 2010–2022), which supports women in 14 Pacific countries to participate fully and safely in political, economic and social life
  • the Investing in Women Initiative in South East Asia ($46 million, 2016–2019), which works with businesses to improve women’s employment conditions and increase investment in women-led small to medium sized enterprises, and
  • the Australia Indonesia program for Empowering Indonesian Women for Poverty Reduction ($108.3 million, 2012–2020), which works to increase the participation of women in the workforce, improves access to social protection programs and empowers women to influence change at the grassroots level.