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Human Rights 21: Working with our neighbours - our international role

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Working with our neighbours: our international role

In today’s globalised world the protection of human rights can no longer start and end at our borders.

While HREOC’s role is focused firmly on domestic issues, over the past decade we have had a significant role promoting human rights in the Asia Pacific region.

Australia – along with India, Indonesia and New Zealand – was a founding member of the Asia Pacific Forum (APF), a regional body established in 1996 to support the work of national human rights institutions in the region. The APF has since grown to include 17 member countries.

Through the APF and on a country-to-country basis, HREOC has provided training and support to many national human rights commissions in areas such as investigation techniques, complaint handling, legal interventions, public education and national inquiries.

We also work in partnership with other national institutions to develop strategies that address emerging human rights issues in the region, such as the trafficking of women and children.

Our most substantial international commitment is managing the China-Australia Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program, which is an integral part of Australia’s annual inter-governmental dialogue on human rights with China. HREOC also manages a Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program with Vietnam and participates in a Human Rights Dialogue with Laos.

The role of national human rights institutions is also increasingly being recognised on the international stage. Due to the efforts of Australia and others, national human rights institutions are now able to participate in deliberations at the United Nations.

The contribution that national institutions made in drafting the recently adopted Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities highlights the practical knowledge and expertise that they can offer.

See the Asia Pacific Forum website at

Photo taken at the APF forum 2007

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