The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which Australia helped draft) sets out guiding principles for human rights that have informed the development of international treaties Australia has signed, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
A Treaty is a binding agreement between countries. It creates obligations for the countries that sign it to protect and preserve human rights.
The Australian Government has agreed to uphold a number of human rights treaties including the:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
- Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Treaties that have been committed to by Australia are legally binding on Australia in international law. However, there is a difference between Australia’s obligations to uphold human rights in international law and domestic law. Many of the human rights contained in international treaties that Australia has committed to have not been enacted into Australian law.
Every five years, the UN examines how well Australia is complying with its obligations under the treaties it has committed to. You can see their reports here.
To get a better understanding of how international human rights law works, why not take our FREE online course ‘An introduction to United Nations human rights frameworks’ ? (45 mins)
[Accessible version in preparation]
You can find out more about how the Commission engages internationally and with the UN on our website.