Australia has completed another successful session as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), which concluded in Geneva on 6 July.

Promoting gender equality and women’s rights — a key Australian priority — featured prominently in the session.

Australia is working with our partners in the Pacific to harness the talents of the next generation of female leaders. Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Dr Sharman Stone, guided discussions on women’s participation in building resilience in developing small island states. Leading Australia’s efforts to amplify the voices of the Pacific in the HRC’s work, Dr Stone delivered a statement on behalf of 15 Pacific countries on advancing women’s rights in our region.

The human rights situation in Syria remains a focus for the Council. Australia expressed its deep concern with the continuing human rights violations in Syria and the devastating humanitarian toll of the ongoing conflict. We also highlighted challenges to human rights around the world, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Venezuela, Diplomatic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Yemen.

Drawing attention to a range of elections in 2018, we noted that free and fair elections remain a critical component of good governance, and called on all states to uphold transparency, accountability and respect for due democratic processes.

We also joined with our MIKTA partner countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Turkey, Australia) to affirm our strong support for the international rules-based order.

Australia is steadfast in its support of the Human Rights Council. It is in our national interest to shape the work of the Council and uphold the international rules-based order. Respecting fundamental human rights and freedoms, and building them into the fabric of a society, makes Australia and the world safer and more secure. The Human Rights Council will sit again in September.

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