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International Issues: Section 2 - International scrutiny of Indigenous rights in Australia

Aboriginal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Friday 14 December, 2012

Section 2

International scrutiny of Indigenous rights in Australia

This section provides links to UN documents, Australian Human Rights Commission submissions and explanatory material on Australia’s Indigenous human rights record.
Materials under the following headings are presented in chronological order, starting with the most recent.


UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, August 2006

The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing released his Preliminary Observations word file regarding his visit to Australia in August 2006.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, January 2006

The Committee considered the combined 4th and 5th periodic reports of Australia and adopted the following Concluding Comments word doc in January 2006,

Expert seminar on Indigenous peoples’ sovereignty over natural resources and relationship to land, January 2006

The Office of the UN High Commissioner convened an expert seminar on Indigenous peoples’ permanent sovereignty over natural resources and their relationship to land in Geneva in January 2006.
See :

Committee on the Rights of the Child, September 2005

The Committee considered the combined 2nd and 3rd periodic reports of Australia and adopted the following Concluding Observations word docin September 2005.

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, March 2005

The Committee considered the 13th and 14th periodic reports of Australia and adopted the following Concluding Observations word doc in March 2005.
See also:

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Expert seminar on Indigenous people and the administration of justice, November 2003

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights convened an expert seminar on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous peoples in November 2003. The seminar considered issues relating to Indigenous peoples' contact with criminal justice systems.
See:

The Social Justice Commissioner made the following three submissions to the Special Rapporteur for the workshop:

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child - Day of General Discussion, September 2003

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child convened a Day of General Discussion on the rights of Indigenous Children in September 2003.
The Social Justice Commissioner made three submissions to the Committee relating to the following themes:

See also:

    • Conclusions and recommendations from the Day of General Discussion, October 2003 pdf doc

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UN Special Rapporteur report on contemporary forms of racism and related intolerance, March 2002

The UN Special Rapporteur on racism released the following Report word docof his visit to Australia in April - May 2001.
See also:

UN human rights treaty committees - 2000

Australia appeared before four UN human rights treaty committees in 2000:

For an analysis of the dialogue between the Australian government and these committees and a summary of HREOC’s submissions to three of the committees see International Review of Indigenous issues in 2000: Australia

Committee Against Torture, November 2000

The Committee Against Torture considered the second report of Australia in November 2000 and adopted the following Concluding Observations.pdf doc

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, August 2000

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the third periodic report of Australia on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in August 2000, and adopted the following Concluding Observations.pdf doc

Human Rights Committee, July 2000

The Human Rights Committee considered the third and fourth periodic reports of Australia in July 2000 and adopted the following Concluding Observations.pdf doc
See also:

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, March 2000

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination considered the tenth, eleventh and twelfth periodic reports of Australia,in March 2000 and adopted the following Concluding Observations.pdf doc
See also:

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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Early warning mechanism (March and August 1999)

Early warning procedures are used by the CERD in an attempt to prevent serious violations of the Convention occurring. Acting under this procedure, the Committee requested information from Australia regarding three areas of concern:

    • Proposed changes to the 1993 Native Title Act;
    • Changes of policy as to Aboriginal land rights; and
    • Changes in the position or function of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

Australia appeared before the Committee at its March 1999 session to address these issues.

The Social Justice Commissioner prepared the following submissions to the Committee under the early warning procedure:

The Committee issued the following comments:

See also:

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Early warning mechanism (August 1998)

Acting under its early warning procedure, the Committee requested the Australian Government to provide information on recent changes to the 1993 Native Title Act and proposed policy changes regarding Aboriginal land rights and the functions of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Social Justice Commissioner.  The Committee consequently issued the following comments:

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