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Thursday, 26 September 2002
Page: 4953

Senator RIDGEWAY (New South Wales) (9.38 a.m.)—I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that Ms Mary Robinson ended her term as the second United Nations (UN) Human Rights Commissioner in September 2002, having held the office since September 1997 and having won the praise and respect of human rights advocates around the world for her strong, principled and consistent promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms;

(b) welcomes the appointment of Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello as the new UN Human Rights Commissioner, following his leadership of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor and longstanding contribution to the promotion and defence of human rights in other UN posts, including Kosovo, Lebanon and Cambodia;

(c) pays tribute to the tireless and courageous work undertaken by Ms Robinson as UN Human Rights Commissioner, acknowledging that she:

(i) held this demanding position during a particularly unstable period in world history, including the civil war and peacekeeping effort in Sierra Leone, the civil unrest and wars in the former Yugoslavia, the independence of East Timor, growing unrest in the Middle East, the attack on the World Trade Centre and the war in Afghanistan,

(ii) was proactive in her promotion of universal human rights, visiting some 60 countries, including China, Russia and Israel, to address concerns about the erosion of fundamental principles of civil liberty and basic human rights, including the rights of minorities and refugees, and

(iii) worked skilfully to promote greater public understanding of fundamental human rights, particularly through international conferences, including the UN World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001; and

(d) concurs with Ms Robinson's philosophy that anything less than universal adherence to the basic principles of human rights will diminish, `our capacity to transmit these values to succeeding generations'.

Question agreed to.