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Law Council very concerned at government decision on UN Anti-Discrimination Protocol.

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Media Releases and Speeches

5 September 2000

Law Council Very Concerned at Government Decision on UN Anti-Discrimination Protocol

The Law Council of Australia has expressed serious concern at the Commonwealth Government's decision to not sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

President of the Law Council, Dr Gordon Hughes said, “The Government's decision is indefensible. Australia was closely involved in drafting the Convention and adopted it into Australian law when the Parliament passed the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975.

The Law Council is sympathetic to the Government's call for reform to the United Nations Treaty Committee system. There is a very strong case for positive reform. But the decision to not sign the CEDAW Protocol does not assist in the reform process.

The Law Council has consistently supported the adoption of the Optional Protocol of the CEDAW by the Commonwealth Government. Australia is already a party to similar individual complaints procedures under the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel and Degrading Treatment. There is every reason in principle and consistency why Australian women should be afforded the same right to make individual complaints.

Like all similar international human rights complaints procedures, Australian women could only use the CEDAW Optional Protocol after they have taken all possible steps under Australian law to remedy alleged discrimination against them. The individual complaints procedure can only be used to raise issues not adequately dealt with under existing Australian law.

The Law Council urges the Commonwealth Government to urgently reconsider its decision, and take the opportunity to restate to the international community Australia's commitment to the elimination of all forms of discrimination.”

Media contact: Deborah Nesbitt on (02) 6247 3788 bh or 0419 269 855 ah.

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