Human rights can be described as the basic rights and freedoms all people have because they are human beings. In Australia there have been many responses to effectively obtain and enforce human rights through both Australian and international action. Responses such as the UN, international treaties, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, domestic responses and the structure of the Australian law making system address issues of human rights. These responses have been effective in responding to issues of human rights within Australia. Although Australia has been widely successful in protecting and promoting human rights within its borders it has failed in some ways to best protect and promote these rights.
The main international response to international human rights issues including that of Australia is the formation of the UN. The UN is concerned with many universal issues including the protection of human rights. Under the main administrative body the Secretariat is the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).The OHCHR was formed in 1993 by the General Assembly and works to protect and promote the human rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international laws. Their purposes include; obtaining universal ratification of the various human rights treaties and declarations, promoting universal acceptance of human rights laws and international cooperation as well as taking a preventative response to serious human rights violations. The OHCHR is an effective response to maintain human rights standards within Australia.
Another important part of the UN is the General Assembly’s subsidiary body the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The UNHRC was established by the General Assembly as an inter-governmental organisation. It consists of 47 seats of states elected by the General Assembly to help protect and promote better human rights around the world. One of the most effective ways the UNHRC achieves human rights is by its Universal Periodic Review. On the 27 January 2011 Australia appeared before the council to be reviewed on its obligations to human rights. For Australia it offers three important opportunities; it informs Australia’s community and government of how well we are holding up to universal standards regarding human rights, allows Australia to inform the international community on its progress with human rights, and to discuss with other states how to improve and act on human rights issues within Australia. The UNHRC is effective in promoting and protecting human rights within both the international and Australian community.
One of the main treaties and declarations used to protect human rights is the International Bill of Rights. This Bill is made up of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The International Bill of Rights consists of three components; the declaration itself, an international treaty relating to it, and measures of implementation. When the bill was to be drafted by the UN Commission of Human Rights tensions grew between the West and the Communist nations after the Cold War as to what the treaty should be about. Here, for the west, including Australia, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was created. The ICCPR states that the state parties signed to the treaty must respect civil and political rights of individuals including such rights as; equality of men and women, the right to life, the right to freedom and movement, the right to a fair trial, the right to freedom of thought, religion and assembly. Member states will be monitored and undergo periodic reporting by the Human Rights Commission on compliance and violations of human rights. By 2010 the ICCPR had been widely ratified to 165 state parties. Australia signed the ICCPR in 1972 and ratified in 1980...
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