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From: "UNNews" <[log in to unmask]>
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Sent: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 4:05 AM
Subject: INDEPENDENT UN EXPERT URGES AUSTRALIA TO ADOPT HUMAN RIGHTS
APPROACHTO FOREIGN AID
INDEPENDENT UN EXPERT URGES AUSTRALIA TO ADOPT HUMAN RIGHTS APPROACH TO
New York, Feb 14 2011 12:05PM
An independent United Nations expert has urged the Australian Government to
adopt a consistent human rights approach in its development aid policy and
programmes to facilitate sustainable development and ensure that recipient
countries fulfil their human rights obligations.
“A human rights-based approach would not only enhance the effectiveness of
AusAID’s [Australian Agency for International Development] programmes, but
would also contribute to achieving sustainable results,”
said Cephas Lumina, the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights
Council to monitor and report on the effects of foreign debt on the
enjoyment of human rights.
In a statement released at the weekend at the conclusion of his first
mission to Australia, Mr. Lumina noted that AusAID’s primary objective is to
assist developing countries reduce poverty and achieve sustainable
development in line with Australia’s national interest.
However, he stressed that “although some of its programme sectors directly
or indirectly promote human rights, AusAID does not have a specific policy
requiring all its programmes to be consistent with a human rights-based
approach to development.”
“The current Review of Aid Effectiveness is an invaluable opportunity to
ensure that human rights become an overarching objective of Australian
international development work,” said Mr. Lumina.
Besides supporting capacity building for governments in recipient countries,
Mr. Lumina said, it is important that Australian aid programmes dedicate
more efforts to sustain the work of local civil society organizations that
play a vital role in ensuring public participation and accountability.
He commended the Australian Government’s commitment to increasing
development aid to 0.5 per cent of the country’s Gross National Income (GNI)
by 2015, and urged Canberra to adopt a clear “road map” for the achievement
of the internationally agreed official development assistance (ODA) target
of 0.7 per cent of GNI.
“Development assistance should not be used as a means of inducing Pacific
Island countries to enter into free trade agreements,” Mr. Lumina said
referring to the free trade agreement negotiations currently underway in the
region. “Australia’s aid programme should be guided by the needs of
recipient communities, rather than focused on Australia’s national
interests,” he added.
He welcomed Australia’s policy decision to use, for the most part, grants,
rather than loans as development assistance, but expressed concern that its
development and trade programmes may be advocating public sector reforms,
privatisation and structural adjustment in the region.
Mr. Lumina warned that such policies may have adverse effects on the poorest
members of the community in the Pacific region, and recommended human rights
impact assessments for all development programmes and trade agreements to
avoid hindering progress on health, education and other Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) – the targets that seek eliminate extreme poverty
and hunger, maternal and infant mortality and lack of access to medical care
and education, all by 2015.
Independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights
Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific
human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN
staff and are not paid for their work.
For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news
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