Legal profession launches human rights framework

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The Law Council of Australia has launched an official framework to evaluate the merits of legislation, policy, and practice that ensures the country’s legal profession acts consistently with international human rights law.

In the “Policy Statement on Human Rights and the Legal Profession,” the nation’s top organisation for lawyers laid out core principles and commitments to human rights on behalf of Australia’s legal profession.

“Australia has a proud history in the human rights sphere. We played a prominent role in drafting the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and have since been an active participant in the development of an international system for the protection and promotion of human rights,” said Fiona McLeod SC, Law Council president. “The Law Council endorses a central and constructive role for Australia in the international human rights system. This year, as Australia seeks a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, it is important to assert and articulate the legal profession’s principles and commitments on human rights.”

“The Law Council supports an approach, consistent with international law and practice, which confirms that all human rights are universal, indivisible, and interdependent and interrelated. We believe this makes it vital to consider legislation and government action through a human rights lens. The principles in this framework guide myriad aspects of the Law Council’s work in the policy space – from asylum seekers to marriage equality to metadata,” McLeod said.

The policy statement calls  for a federal charter or bill of rights, as well as for more state and territory charter of rights. Currently, Victoria and the ACT are the only states that have a charter on human rights.

The Law Council has also committed to promoting respect of human rights by Australian corporations and other incorporated and unincorporated organisations. It also committed to implementing the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

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