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Thursday, 19 March 1987
Page: 1131


Ms McHUGH —Can the Minister for Foreign Affairs inform the House of the results of the consideration of the question of human rights in Cyprus at the recent session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights? How did Australia vote and what were its reasons for that vote? Does this vote indicate any shift from the Government's clearly stated policy on the Cyprus question?


Mr HAYDEN —At the forty-third session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights a motion was presented relating to Cyprus. The Australian Government abstained from voting on that motion. There were 25 votes in favour, 15 abstentions and three against. I am advised that all western European countries abstained, including the United Kingdom, which is a guarantor power under the Zurich Agreement which established the Republic of Cyprus. All we were concerned about was the revival of consideration of Cyprus in the Commission on Human Rights nine years after it was last considered by that Commission. Our worry was that this would have had the effect of undermining the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations towards a settlement of the Cyprus issue. I might also say that the text of the resolution was not appropriate for the Commission on Human Rights. It was much more appropriate for the General Assembly of the United Nations or the Security Council.

In casting our abstention vote, the Australian delegation noted our hope for a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus issue, providing for the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and non-aligned status of Cyprus; our full support for the good offices role of the Secretary-General; and our belief that the Commission on Human Rights was not an appropriate forum for discussion of the Cyprus issue. It properly belongs, as I said, at the moment in the Security Council and with the Secretary-General. We also noted our concern that the Committee on Missing Persons had so far failed to make any real progress and our hope that the parties to the Cyprus dispute would co-operate to facilitate its work. There should be no doubt about the Government's position in respect of Cyprus; that has been made clear successively over the years at the United Nations when the issue has come forward.