Twenty NGOs produced a list of criticisms of the timing, quality, and input process around a major UN report by DFAT during an all-day ‘consultation’ in Canberra this month.
NGOs critique Govt response to UN
Report on Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / Non-Government Organisations consultations on UN treaty body reports under the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and report under the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
Civil Liberties Australia was represented by president Dr Kristine Klugman at the ‘consultation’ meeting, whichwere held in Canberra on 8 May 2015, with about 20 representatives of NGOs attending.
DFAT invited comment from NGOs on the government’s response to UN CERD and ICESCR reports on Australia’s performance under these conventions, covering the period 2010 – 2014. This report is a brief summary of the day-long discussion of the concluding observations of each section of both reports.
The main comments on the detailed observations of each section were carried in the main by the representative of the Law Society and the representative of the National Association of Community Legal Centres, though other representatives participated intermittently. The CLA representative spoke to the points raised in the CLA submission of ICESCR, prepared by Rajan Venkataraman.
In summary, the principal criticisms were:
- the consultation time for NGOs was inadequate, given the range and scope of the reports’ content
- the Australian government’s delay in responding is unacceptable
- the structure of the reports were not in conformity with reporting guidelines
- the statement that the government was not obliged to respond was contested
- there is a failure in qualitative and quantitative analysis, and facts to back up assertions made
- there is no information on practical implementation of recommendations of Treaty Bodies
- especially under CERD, a failure to consult with Indigenous organisations is regrettable
- there is a need to update the core document
- if it is the case that the government has no intention to implement comprehensive legislation at the federal level to give effect to recommendations, then the report should clearly say so
The chair thanked the representative of organisations for the quality of their submissions.
Dr Kristine Klugman
President, Civil Liberties Australia
12 May 2015