Law Council meets Australia’s UN Ambassador
On 19 April 2018, the Law Council met with Australia’s recently appointed Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Sally Mansfield.
This meeting enabled the Law Council to discuss a broad range of Law Council policies, with the Ambassador, immediately prior to her departure for Geneva. The discussion highlighted the Law Council’s important role as a constructive and influential organisation focused on improving rule of law outcomes in Australia and internationally.
A major area of focus will be how Australia uses its position on the Human Rights Council to drive positive change both in Australia and overseas. In this respect, it is promising that there is broad agreement between the Law Council’s human rights policy priorities and the Australian Government’s voluntary pledges and commitments to the UN General Assembly prior to Australia’s election to the Human Rights Council.
In addition to gaining a better understanding of Ms Mansfield’s goals and priorities for her term as Ambassador, there were also opportunities to raise the Law Council’s concerns in relation to some of these matters and to suggest areas where further efforts are required to sustain Australia’s international reputation as a regional and global leader on human rights. In particular, the Law Council reiterated its policy positions in respect of:
- Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, including detention of asylum seekers and the need for a regional cooperative approach to address the flow of asylum seekers into and within the Asia Pacific region
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advancement, including high rates of incarceration and matters of self-determination
- The Australian Government’s implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
- Australia’s commitment to international human rights frameworks, including the ratification of the Optional Protocol on Civil and Political Rights
The Law Council also took this opportunity to highlight concerns raised by the South Pacific Lawyers’ Association regarding the importance of the private legal profession in achieving sustainable development and policy decisions that could potentially increase the prevalence of small arms and light weapons in the Pacific.
Ms Mansfield is a career diplomat who has most recently served as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Chief People Officer. She was appointed on 29 March 2018 to replace outgoing Ambassador John Quinn.