International technical cooperation activities increase human rights capacity and advance national reform in partner states
Co-operation on human rights with international partners not only strengthens networks between governments and civil society in each country, it enhances the Commission’s expertise and provides an opportunity to learn from different approaches and new ideas. We have several established technical cooperation programs, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
In this reporting period, the Commission continued human rights technical co-operation programs (HRTCPs) with China and Laos, and developed a program of work in Vietnam focused on building the human rights capacity and knowledge of key actors including public servants, schoolteachers and those in the private sector.
China-Australia 2017–21 Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program
The Australia-China HRTCP was established in 1998 following the first Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue in 1997. Since its commencement, the HRTCP has been implemented through a partnership between DFAT, the Commission and the Government of the People’s Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The HRTCP is fundamentally underpinned by the view that by working together, and by exchanging views and approaches, the most effective elements of human rights protection, promotion and administration will develop and prosper. Collaboration, identifying shared priorities, and fostering mutual respect and trust are integral aspects of working towards this purpose. The goal is for Australia and China to collaborate on shared priorities to advance human rights reform in China and apply human rights principles and practices.
The Commission worked with nine implementing partners in China to implement 21 activities over an 18-month period including 2018–19. A range of activities were undertaken including study visits, capacity building workshops, research and policy development. Although the HRTCP has not been designed from a thematic perspective, the priorities of HRTCP partners are highly complementary of each other and naturally fall into three key areas: women’s rights, children’s rights and access to justice. During this reporting period, the Commission has:
- developed trusting and mutually respectful relationships with Chinese partners
- increased understanding amongst partners of human rights principles and practices
- assisted in the development of research to deepen understanding, inform practice and policy
- increased dialogue and co-operation between Australian officials and officials from a range of Chinese agencies.
In addition, the Commission organised an Annual Reflections Workshop which provided an opportunity for partners to reflect on program implementation and share lessons and learnings with other partners.
2017–21 Lao PDR-Australia Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program
The Lao PDR-Australia HRTCP is designed to improve the Government of Lao-PDR (GoL)’s knowledge of its human rights responsibilities and obligations. In this period, the second year of the HRTCP was completed with the successful implementation of six activities focused on strengthening the GoL’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. Activities included training workshops, civil society consultations and the development of technical support resources.
A significant progress indicator is the Commission’s relationship with the key implementing partner, the Department of Treaties and Law. This has been strong and positive throughout the 2018–19 year and trust between partners continues to deepen and grow. The activities implemented have been valuable and overall feedback received from all stakeholders has been that the activities have had positive impacts, that are contributing to the program objectives.