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HREOC - Annual Report 2001 - 2002: Chapter 9: International Activities

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

Annual Report 2001-2002

Chapter 9: International Activities

In 2001-02, as in
past years, the Commission participated in some bilateral international
program activities, generally as part of the Australian Government's
development cooperation program developed by the Australian Agency for
International Development (AusAID).

The Commission's
international program role arises due to the expertise the Commission
has developed in pursuit of its domestic mandate. The Commission also
holds the belief that the strengthening of human rights protection
and development everywhere only ensures the enhancement of human rights
activities and awareness anywhere, including Australia. In some cases
regional countries wish to access this expertise in pursuit of their
own human rights objectives, while in other cases the Australian Government
wishes to use the expertise in pursuit of its development cooperation
objectives. To respond to all requests for program activities could
potentially distract the Commission from its primary, domestic mandate.
It therefore participates only when a number of pre-requisites are
satisfied, including that all of the Commission's costs are met, that
the program is clearly capable of achieving its goals and that it
does not detract in any way from the Commission's domestic work.


The Commission's
most substantial international program involvement is with the China-Australia
Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program (HRTC), which is an integral
part of the annual Dialogue on Human Rights with China. This program
encompasses three principal themes - protection of the rights of women
and children, protection of ethnic minority rights and reform of the
legal system.

HRTC undertakes
each year a series of activities intended to assist China to promote
and protect human rights. In 2001-02 the program included providing
scholarships for Chinese officials to study human rights in Australia
and workshops on a range of subjects such as protection of women from
family violence, measures to combat trafficking in women and children
and reporting on compliance with international human rights treaty
obligations. Training has been provided to Chinese officials working
in areas vital to human rights protection such as prosecutors and
prison officers. The project supported the translation into Chinese
and subsequent publication of four seminal texts dealing with mass
communication and the right to freedom of expression.

The program has
an immediate impact on the formulation of administrative procedures.
In the longer term the program aims to have an impact through increasing
the level of knowledge of human rights concepts, with a resultant
impact on the formulation of Chinese policies and practices. The program
therefore seeks to work with the Chinese authorities to demonstrate
the value of institutionalising the regard for human rights and to
then work with those authorities to formulate and implement practical
strategies to realise that value.


During 2001-02
the Commission continued work on the program of cooperation with the
Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komisi Nasional Hak
Asasi Manusia, commonly known as Komnas HAM). The four year program
concluded in May 2002. Its goal was to strengthen the capacity of
Komnas HAM to fulfil its broad mandate. This was accomplished both
through specific capacity building activities and by directly assisting
Komnas HAM to disseminate an understanding of human rights principles
amongst Indonesia officials and the general population.

A series of activities
was implemented in this reporting year included training for Komnas
HAM officials in investigation of gross human rights violations and
a workshop on mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
The program also supported the placement of advisers in Komnas HAM
to assist in development of public education and awareness raising
strategies, including a major anti-violence campaign.

South Africa

The Commission
continued its assistance to the South African Commission on Gender
Equality. This year's program focused mainly on initiatives to strengthen
that organisation's capacity to intervene effectively in relevant
litigation in South Africa concerning gender issues.


The Commission
participated in the inaugural session of Australia-Vietnam Dialogue
on International Organisations and Legal Issues, held in Hanoi on
27 - 29 May 2002. The Dialogue included discussion of human rights

Other countries

The Commission
has worked with other countries on a small scale, generally in the
technical areas of human rights protection. For instance officials
of the Commission have worked with the Government of Uganda to develop
its capacity to conduct national human rights inquiries and with the
Government of Indonesia to develop its capacity to implement ILO Convention
111 (guaranteeing equality in employment).

In addition to
these bilateral programs, during 2001-02 the Commission participated
in the preparatory stages of a project of regional cooperation to
prevent trafficking in people. The project is sponsored by Australia
and will involve a number of countries in South East Asia. The initial
stages included a consultation and design visit by the project team
to countries in the region.