Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Australia-China human rights dialogue Joint program of cooperation

Download PDFDownload PDF


Australia and China strengthened their bilateral dialogue on human rights issues today with the successful conclusion of the second meeting of the Australia-China human rights dialogue in Canberra. The meeting agreed on a Joint Program of Cooperation under which Australia and China will work together over the coming year to broaden human rights cooperation.

Building on the inaugural round of talks held in Beijing in August 1997, a Chinese delegation, led by Mr Yang Jiechi, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited Australia for the human rights talks which were held on 10-11 August 1998. Vice-Minister Yang’s delegation included representatives from a range of Chinese government departments and agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, the Supreme People’s Court and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The Australian delegation was led by Mr Kim Jones, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and included officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Attorney-General’s Department, the Australian Agency for International Development, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). The talks were officially opened by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer and Vice-Minister Yang Jiechi.

Over one-and-a-half days of open and productive talks both sides were able to discuss respective views and concerns on a broad range of human rights issues on the basis of equality and mutual respect. In this 50th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both sides reaffirmed their strong commitment to the Declaration as a common standard for all peoples and all nations, and as a source of inspiration for the further

promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms - political, economic, social, civil and cultural - including the right to development. Both sides reaffirmed the importance of ensuring objectivity and comprehensiveness in consideration of human rights issues, and underlined the importance of mutual understanding, dialogue and cooperation in the field of human rights. Both sides regarded the dialogue as positive, constructive and


The Chinese delegation will be meeting a range of Australian organisations in Canberra and Sydney on 11-13 August, including HREOC, the Australian Law Reform Commission and the Independent Commission Against Corruption (NSW).

Joint Program of Cooperation

Both sides agreed that broad based and constructive dialogue and cooperation between countries was important in strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights. In this spirit, a range of activities were identified which are aimed at achieving practical outcomes and maintaining productive exchanges on human rights matters of concern to both

sides. These activities include:

. Attendance by a Chinese Government observer delegation at the September 1998 meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions in Jakarta. This will be the first time a Chinese delegation attends a meeting of the Forum. The Forum was established in 1996 and includes the human rights commissions of Australia.

New Zealand. Indonesia, India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The secretariat to the Forum is based at HREOC and is funded by the Australian Government.

In consideration of China’s future accession to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, provision of technical advice based on the Australian experience of submitting reports to the United Nations Committees established under those Covenants.

Continuation of the Human Rights Technical Assistance (HRTA) Program. Established last year, this program is designed to focus on institutional strengthening, training, policy development and information dissemination in the human rights field. Regular * “

contact and consultation will take place between Chinese and Australian officials with regard to the finalisation of projects for inclusion in this year’s program. Projects under consideration include:

- short-term study awards for relevant Chinese officials to attend courses in international human rights law at Australian universities

- a project to improve the awareness of women’s rights among the general public, women’s groups and legal and judicial personnel, especially in remote areas

- translation into English and publication in Australia of a significant Chinese work on human rights, and translation into Chinese and publication in China of a significant Australian work on human rights

- continuation of the judicial exchange program begun as part of the 1997/98 Human Rights Technical Assistance Program, including further lectures to be delivered by Australian judicial experts at the Chinese National Judges College in Beijing

- continuation of a project on freedom of expression and the development of mass communication law developed with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

- projects to advance social and economic rights in Yunnan province through construction of a school and/or a library and provision of books and teaching equipment .

- projects with the All China Women’s Federation on prevention of domestic violence and training in women’s and children’s rights.

The allocation for the 1998-99 HRTA Program will be AUD 700,000 which represents more than double the funds made available in 1997-98.

Facilitation of attendance of relevant academics and officials from both China and Australia at seminars and conferences on human rights in each other’s countries.

Regular exchanges on human rights matters - at the bilateral, regional and multilateral level - in the lead up to the third meeting of the Australia-China human rights dialogue, which is expected to take place in China in 1999.

Canberra, 11 August 1998