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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 3449 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

Although the declaration, which comprises a broad range of rights, is not a legally binding document, it has inspired more than 60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights. These instruments include the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which are legally binding treaties. Together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they constitute the International Bill of Rights.

The rights contained in the declaration and the two covenants were further elaborated in such documents as the Universal Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which declares dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred as punishable by law; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, covering measures to be taken for eliminating discrimination against women in political and public life, education, employment, health, marriage and family; and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which lays down guarantees in terms of the child's human rights.

The universal declaration is a living document. To commemorate it in the coming years of this millennium, the debate will need to focus on the current complex human rights issues that we all understand exist. They include the right to development, the recognition of the rights of indigenous people, the rights and empowerment of people with disabilities, gender mainstreaming and issues of benchmarks and accountability in furtherance of these and other rights.

The enactment of the principles of the declaration has been furthered globally by the fact that member states willingly subject their legislation and policy to international monitoring, which is based on dialogue and cooperation between the relevant United Nations committee and the participating member state. This relationship has proven to be an important factor in the advancement of human rights on an international and national level. The United Nations committees guide the member states over the long term in the revision of law and policy which impacts on human rights, especially as international debate focuses on more and more broadly defined rights.

Mr Speaker, in September this year many members signed the Amnesty International Pledge, as did many other Canberrans. We, as parliamentarians, are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that we honour that pledge. It is an important time to reaffirm the values of the universal declaration and to act accordingly. We must consistently walk the talk if we are to safeguard and progress those principles.

The Beijing Declaration at the World Conference of Women in 1995 declared that "women's rights are human rights". This Government recognises that, Mr Speaker. The legislation that this Assembly passed on domestic violence issues was guided by the United Nations universal declaration. The development of an action plan for women came directly out of the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The Government will assess, through an audit, all current government programs to see how well they are meeting the current needs of all women. This is walking the talk, Mr Speaker, when we put into action our pledge to uphold these principles.

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