Extra-Territorial Obligations

International assistance

Notwithstanding the United Nations target of 0.7% for developed countries, Australia contributes only 0.29% of its GNI to ODA in 2009/2010. Australia recently committed to increasing its assistance to 0.5% of GNI by 2015-2016. However, this remains well short of the Millennium Development Goal target of 0.7% target.

Business

There are a number of Australian companies whose actions and/or activities have had a severe impact on the human rights of individuals across the world. Nevertheless, there remains no comprehensive legal framework which imposes human rights obligations on Australian corporations when operating overseas, particularly in areas where there is relaxed or no regulation.

What the UN Human Rights Council recommended in the Universal Periodic Review

In January 2011 Australia was reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council during the Universal Periodic Review (or UPR) (a process whereby the human rights performance of all UN member states is reviewed by other states).  In June 2011 Australia provided its response to the 145 recommendations made by the Human Rights Council.

The Government has accepted over 90 per cent of the recommendations and has committed to incorporating the recommendations it has accepted into the National Human Rights Action Plan.

In relation to Australia's extra-territorial obligations, the Human Rights Council made a number of relevant recommendations.  Australia has responded to these recommendations as set out in the following table.

Recommendation

Stance

Explanation

Maintain and protect the internationally agreed target budget of .7% GDP for Official Development Assistance (recommendation 86.135).

Accepted

The Australian Government has committed to increasing aid to 0.5% of Gross National Income by 2015-16. As economic and fiscal conditions permit, the Government will then progressively increase Australia’s official development assistance until it reaches 0.7% of GNI.

Investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of torture in the context of counter-terrorism (recommendation 86.136).

Accepted

The Australian Government recently strengthened its legislative prohibition on torture. Statutory victims of crime compensation schemes operate in all States and Territories. Australia’s legal system provides for individuals to challenge actions and decisions of Government authorities. The Australian Government may also provide discretionary financial assistance.

Adopt a rights-based approach to climate change policy at home and abroad, including by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to safe levels that are consistent with the full enjoyment of human rights (recommendation 86.31).

Accepted-in-part

Australia is committed to taking action to address climate change in accordance with its international commitments. This will positively impact on the continued ability to enjoy human rights. Human rights impacts will be considered as part of policy approaches to address all impacts of climate change.