Global Policy Forum

UN Committee System in State of Drift

Australian General News
August 3, 2000

Australia would continue to push for reform of a United Nations committee system, foreign affairs department head Ashton Calvert said today.

Dr Calvert said the UN committees, some of whom have been critical of Australia on a range of human rights issues, including mandatory sentencing, must be made to move with the times. "Australia ... actively participates in the promotion of human rights standards through the UN system," he told a National Press Club luncheon. "We have been concerned however, that the UN treaty committee system is in a state of drift, paying too little attention to egregious breaches of human rights in many countries, and taking at face value input from unelected and often partisan lobbies."

Dr Calvert said those concerns prompted the government to review Australia's participation in the committee system. The review was in line with the government's broader desire for reform of the UN, he said.

"The UN now operates in a world far different from that at the time it was established in 1945, and it is not clear that the organisation is as prepared as it should be to meet current and future challenges," Dr Calvert said. "We commend the reform efforts of Secretary-General (Kofi) Annan and others, but much more needs to be done." Australia would be part of that process, Dr Calvert said.

"The forthcoming session of the UN General Assembly, which includes the Millennium Summit, presents a chance to review the UN's priorities for the 21st Century and to ensure that the UN remains a central player in the pursuit of peace, security, development and human rights."

More Information on UN Reform
More Information on the Millennium Summit


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