Australia to join UN Human Rights Council

Canberra: Australia will take a seat on the powerful UN Human Rights Council following France’s withdrawal from the process, according to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

On Friday, Bishop confirmed France’s withdrawal will clear the way for Australia and Spain to take up two vacancies on the council from 2018, reports the Herald Sun daily.

France’s strategic withdrawal came after Australia secured 141 written pledges and more than 20
verbal pledges from 192 of the UN’s member countries to back Australia’s bid.

The result came after a mammoth lobbying effort led by Bishop and ambassadors and diplomats around the globe, focusing particularly on small island nations and the Indian and Pacific oceans countries.

Speaking in the Serbian capital Belgrade, Bishop said it was important democratic countries like Australia stood for election to the Human Rights Council, the Herald Sun reported.

We didn’t use our aid budget, we didn’t make promises we couldn’t keep. We very much campaigned on our record and how we would act on the Human Rights Council,” she said.

Australia campaigned on five key areas — indigenous rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women, freedom of speech and freedom of expression, strengthening domestic national human rights institutions and governance, accountability and transparency.

However, the UN still has to vote on the council membership despite the overwhelming suppost.