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Australia elected Vice Chair of Human Rights Commission.



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER FA4 21 January 2003

AUSTRALIA ELECTED VICE CHAIR OF HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

I am please to announce that Australia yesterday was elected as a Vice-Chair of this year’s session of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

I intend to use our membership of CHR, and particularly our position as Vice-Chair, to advance the Government's initiative on reform of the human rights treaty bodies. Another priority during our membership will be to improve the functioning of CHR itself. We will encourage an atmosphere at CHR in which issues of serious concern can be discussed fully. We will continue to focus on practical measures to promote and protect human rights on the ground. Capacity building will be an important part of this. Specifically, we will continue to promote good governance and the development and maintenance of effective national human rights institutions.

We have for some time been concerned with the growing politicisation of CHR. In particular, we are concerned at the number of issues being put to a vote. This is divisive and does nothing to improve the human rights situation on the ground. We will work hard to encourage a return to consensus as the primary means of decision-making. This will maximise the CHR’s effectiveness in addressing human rights concerns and contributing to the development and implementation of human rights.

Media enquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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