Statement from the Australian Human Rights Commission

Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Australian Human Rights Commission is an independent body with a legislative mandate, under the Racial Discrimination Act, to combat racial discrimination and prejudices that lead to racial discrimination.

The decision of the Commission for the Race Discrimination Commissioner to attend the Durban Review Conference 2009 in Geneva was taken in consideration of the Commission’s functions under the Racial Discrimination Act.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has observer status only at this conference, which concludes on 24 April 2009.

The Commission was satisfied that the Conference would provide a valuable opportunity for common experiences of racism to be shared and for it to learn from the experiences of other countries about the most effective ways of eradicating racism.

A number of National Human Rights Institutions are attending this conference and interacting with them on these issues is an important part of the value of the conference for the Commission.

The Race Discrimination Commissioner has participated as a member of a panel of representatives of National Human Rights Institutions discussing racial discrimination and tolerance. The Commissioner has also participated in a number of side events, in particular: a forum on the role of National Human Rights Institutions in Implementing the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; a forum on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and a forum on policing in a diverse society.

Further background on the Commission’s decision to attend is available on our website and can be found at: http://humanrights.gov.au/racial_discrimination/conferences/Durban2009/index.html