Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. High Commissioner, Excellencies and distinguished delegates.
Australia remains a strong supporter of the multilateral system, the central tenet of which is the Charter of the United Nations.
The Charter has been a pillar of global peace and security since its ratification seven decades ago.
A resilient and effective multilateral human rights system makes the world safer and more secure for all, with respect, promotion and protection of human rights at its core.
Australia condemns in the strongest terms Russia’s unprovoked and unacceptable attack on Ukraine and its people.
Russia has seriously violated international law and the Charter of the United Nations.
We share the concerns of the High Commissioner regarding the increased risk of serious violations and abuses of human rights due to the deterioration of the situation in Ukraine.
We call on Russia to cease violence and hostilities.
Australia is deeply concerned about the humanitarian cost that will be borne by the people of Ukraine as a result of this conflict.
We are preparing assistance to support humanitarian aid through the UN and international agencies.
Australia recognizes the essential role played by the Human Rights Council. We reiterate our strong and enduring support as an observer state and our commitment to be a constructive and open partner on human rights.
A Council fit for purpose, well-resourced, efficient, transparent and accountable to member states is essential.
Australia supports the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the independence of that office.
The success of the Human Rights Council depends not only on its institutional strength and resilience, but also, and above all, on the responsibility of its members to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights of man.
Australia encourages the cooperation and engagement of all States in the Council, but we must also recognize that the conduct of some States continues to fall below the standards we expect.
In this regard, Australia welcomes the new members of the Council and their pledges to participate in the Council in good faith, a legacy of our own tenure on the Council from 2018 to the end of 2020.
We welcomed the commitment of the High Commissioner during the 48th session of the Council to publish the assessment of his office on the allegations of gross human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Release of this material as soon as possible is vital, given China’s lack of transparency regarding these extremely serious abuses.
We will continue to advocate for the protection, promotion and respect of human rights through our bilateral, regional and multilateral engagements, particularly in our Indo-Pacific region.
Australia remains particularly concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in the DPRK, Afghanistan and Ethiopia.
We are deeply disturbed by the situation in Myanmar where, one year after the military coup, the most basic human rights of the people of Myanmar have been brutally suppressed.
We continue to work with our ASEAN partners and other members of the international community towards a peaceful and democratic transition in Myanmar.
The diversity of the membership of the Human Rights Council is also essential if we are to understand and respond effectively to the full range of human rights challenges we face.
Australia is committed to ensuring that the Indo-Pacific region is represented both in matters considered by the Council and in its decision-making.
We thank Fiji, the first-ever member of the Pacific Islands Council, for its contributions to the Council over the past three years, including Ambassador Khan’s tenure as Chair. We look forward to continuing to work with the Marshall Islands as an important voice for the Pacific this year and wish Timor-Leste every success in their aspirations to become a member of the Council in the future.
Australia remains committed to making the voice of the Pacific heard on human rights and social inclusion.
By facilitating the Pacific Satellite Summit of the World Disability Summit this month, Australia has sought not only to elevate Pacific voices, but to ensure that social inclusion and the human rights of people disabilities remain a priority in our region.
Social inclusion remains a priority of Australia’s commitment to human rights. We will promote and advance the rights of Indigenous peoples around the world and in our own country.
We will advocate for equal rights and an end to violence and discrimination against LGBTI people.
We will continue our strong advocacy for the rights of women and girls, in particular for the full enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights and an end to gender-based violence and discrimination.
We will continue to oppose the death penalty, in all circumstances, for all.
It is deeply flawed and unjust as it is used disproportionately against the poor, people with intellectual disabilities and minority groups.
Australia is committed to responding to violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Australia will use its expanded stand-alone sanctions laws to take timely action and deter those responsible for gross violations of international human rights.
Our recent reforms enable Australia to sanction individuals and entities responsible for or complicit in egregious behavior, including serious human rights abuses and malicious cyber activity.
These measures are appropriate, effective and legitimate, fully in accordance with international law.
The lasting global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will make respect for human rights essential to future peace and stability.
In pursuing global recovery, Australia reaffirms its commitment to sustainable development which places human rights at the center of achieving sustainable and inclusive development.
Australia reaffirms its strong call on all Member States to protect, respect and promote human rights, especially in times of crisis.