UNITY United Nations – 60th anniversary year – A time for Renewal by lifemate

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UNITY                 United Nations – 60th anniversary year – A time for Renewal
The national publication of the United Nations Association of Australia
March 11, 2005                 No 410                ISSN 1035-218X

Compiled from Federal parliamentary and other sources relevant to Australia's obligations
to the United Nations

Editor: Ian Mathews Ph: (02) 6281 4025 Fax (02) 6285 2529
Post: 4 Stone Place, Garran ACT 2605
E-mail: imathews@ozemail.com.au Earlier editions on website [under reconstruction]
www.unaa.org.au/f-unity.html

In this edition …

    1.    Kofi Annan outlines UN’s fight against terrorism
    2.    Evans ‘seeks UN post’ says ABC
    3.    Harsh critic is US’s voice at UN
    4.    Senate report on demise of ATSIC
    5.    Senate to probe Iraq ‘interrogations’
    6.    Human rights dialogue inquiry
    7.    Trafficking in women and children
    8.    Senate’s concern over proliferation of WMD
    9.    Women's Rights Watch launched and associated reports
    10.   Debt moratorium for tsunami-hit countries
    11.   HREOC inquiry into jobs for disabled
    12.   Internet and suicide
    13.   E.Timor sea boundary talks
    14.   Diplomatic appointment
    15.   Publications: Labour laws, current and future -- and more
    16.   New auditor-general
    17.   Adverse audit on radiation and nuclear activities
    18.   Australia votes against cloning
    19.   Saving mothers and babies
    20.   Human Security through the UN Millennium Agenda
    21.   Diary Dates and [22] Job vacancies and courses are in the Supplement to UNity
          transmitted separately


[1] Kofi Annan outlines UN’s fight against terrorism

United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has called on Member States to adopt a common
approach to fighting terrorism. He especially urged countries to work towards a unified
understanding of the threat and to overcome arguments and long negotiations about how to
define it which had for too long weakened the moral authority of the Organisation.

He announced the creation of a special task force within his office which would meet regularly to
review the handling of terrorism and related issues throughout the UN system. The Secretary-
General made it clear that he wants all parts of the system to play their proper role: “All
Departments and Agencies of the United Nations can and must contribute to carrying out this
strategy.”

Speaking on March 10 at the closing plenary of the International Summit on Democracy,
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Terrorism and Security held in Madrid to commemorate the victims of the railway station
bombings of last year, he detailed the five basic pillars of what he termed as a “principled,
comprehensive strategy” to fight terrorism globally:

    •   Dissuade disaffected groups from choosing terrorism as a tactic to achieve their goals;
    •   Deny terrorists the means to carry out their attacks;
    •   Deter states from supporting terrorists;
    •   Develop state capacity to prevent terrorism;
    •   Defend human rights in the struggle against terrorism.

         He called on Member States to cut through the political debates on “state terrorism” and
the “right to resist occupation” and to agree to complete a comprehensive convention outlawing
terrorism in all its forms.

The Secretary-General urged leaders to unite behind the clear definition of terrorism as proposed
by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change as a basis to guide their work. The
Panel calls for a definition of terrorism which would make it clear that “any action constitutes
terrorism if it is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants,
with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a Government or an international
organisation to do or abstain from doing any act.”

The Secretary-General stressed that not only political leaders, “but civil society and religious
leaders should clearly denounce terrorist tactics as criminal and inexcusable.” He pointed out that
the true root cause of terrorism stems from the belief that terrorist groups think their tactics are
effective and approved at least by those in whose name they claim to commit them. “Our job is to
show unequivocally that they are wrong”, he said.

Mr Annan pointed out that “(upholding) human rights is not merely compatible with a successful
counter-terrorism strategy. It is an essential element of it.”

For more information on the UN's counter-terrorism work and the Report of the High-level Panel
see the UN website: www.un.org/terrorism and
www.un.org/secureworld.
Or contact Jennie Watson, Information Officer, UNIC Sydney on (02) 9262 5111

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[2] Evans ‘seeks UN post’ says ABC

The ABC reported on March 9, that former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans was seeking
appointment as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to replace Ruud Lubbers,
who resigned recently following allegations of sexual harassment.

Mr Evans is currently the chairman of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) and
was on the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change to the United Nations

According to the ABC report, although Mr Evans recently clashed with Prime Minister John
Howard over the Iraq war at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, the Federal Government
has endorsed his bid for the UN position. But the Federal Government has not confirmed whether
it sent a letter to the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan endorsing Mr Evans.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200503/s1319527.htm
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***
UNHCR Regional Office, Canberra, now has its own website at www.unhcr.org.au which
provides a variety of interesting information concerning refugee issues with a regional focus.

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[3] Harsh critic is US’s voice at UN

President Bush’s nominee as United States Ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton,
has been warmly welcomed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer.

Currently the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, Mr
Bolton has a reputation as a trenchant critic of the United Nations.

Mr Downer said, “Mr Bolton is a highly competent and effective diplomat and a good friend of
Australia. He will provide a strong voice for reforming the United Nations to make the
organisation better equipped to confront the threats and challenges facing the world today.

“Mr Bolton’s nomination comes at a critical time for the United Nations. The UN high-level
summit in September presents a watershed opportunity for improving the responsiveness of the
multilateral system and global governance generally.

“Australia remains committed to the United Nations and its vital role in promoting international
peace and security. We look forward to working closely with the United States and other
countries to ensure ambitious outcomes at the September summit.

“Australia has worked closely with Mr Bolton on a wide range of issues, especially in preventing
the spread of weapons of mass destruction. He has been a driving force in developing the
Proliferation Security Initiative – in which Australia has played an active part from the outset – and
the Group of Eight’s Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass
Destruction.”

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announcing the nomination on March 7, emphasised
the United States' commitment to working in close partnership with the United Nations and its
view of the UN "as an important component of our diplomacy,"

Probably because Mr Bolton has been identified as a caustic critic of the UN in the past, Ms Rice
said that Mr Bolton "is personally committed to the future success of the United Nations."
According to her he will be “a strong voice for reform at a time when the United Nations has
begun to reform itself to help meet the challenging agenda before the international community." In
addition, Ms Rice said he would help build a broader base of support for the United Nations in the
United States.

Mr Bolton has held the arms control and international security portfolio at the State Department
since May 2001. Before his current position, he was senior vice president of the American
Enterprise Institute, a non-profit public policy centre. He was also Assistant Secretary of State for
International Organisation Affairs from 1989 to 1993; Assistant Attorney General at the Justice
Department from 1985 to 1989, and Assistant Administrator for Program and Policy Coordination
for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) from 1982 to 1983.

Accepting the nomination, which has to be confirmed by the US Senate, Mr Bolton said, "I have
consistently stressed in my writings that American leadership is critical to the success of the UN,
an effective UN, one that is true to the original intent of its charter's framers. … This is a time of
opportunity for the UN which likewise requires American leadership to achieve successful
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reform."

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan "warmly congratulates" Mr Bolton and "is
looking forward to working with him on UN reform and other issues," a UN spokesman said.

The New York Times described Mr. Bolton as “a blunt-spoken conservative known for his sharp
scepticism of the United Nations and international diplomacy.” The paper reported that
Administration officials said his appointment would strengthen efforts to hold the United Nations
to effective standards. It went on, “But the nomination brought expressions of concern from many
diplomats speaking on the condition that they not be identified by name or country, many of
whom noted that Mr Bolton had been scathing in his criticism of the United Nations. …”

Writing in The Nation Ian Williams described Mr Bolton as “The man who ordered a CIA probe on
Hans Blix for not finding weapons in Iraq when ordered, who contrived the dismissal of the head
of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and who in 1999 wrote for the
American Enterprise Institute of "Kofi Annan's UN Power Grab," has recently been trying fire
Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, for not finding nuclear
weapons in Iran. Americans, and the rest of the world, should worry. If his appointment is
confirmed, Bolton's task is likely to be to bully the UN into supporting an Iraq-style fiasco in Iran or
Syria. …”

For more information:
Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (02) 6277 7500
www.dfat.gov.au
Peter Gilbert, Information Resource Centre, Office of Public Affairs, US Consulate General,
Sydney ph: 02 9373 9229 e-mail: gilbertpb@state.gov
www.nytimes.com or e-mail: NYTimes.com nytdirect@nytimes.com

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[4] Senate report on demise of ATSIC
In the wake pf the Government announced intention to abolish ATSIC, the Senate Select
Committee on the Administration of Indigenous Affairs has published it report, After ATSIC, life in
the mainstream?

The Committee recommends that:
   • the Commonwealth fund the formation of a national Indigenous elected representative
      body, and provide it with ongoing funding;
   • the Commonwealth defer plans to abolish regional councils and work with communities to
      develop effective replacements;
   • A new Senate Committee is established to watch over the change process, looking
      specifically at the equity of shared responsibility agreements, the formation of
      representative arrangements and the implementation of mainstreaming.

Commenting on the Government’s assertion that its new arrangements are about partnerships
with Indigenous people, the committee heard testimony that revealed:
    • anger and frustration at the lack of consultation with Indigenous people and the fact that
         the Government has ignored its own ATSIC review;
    • A loss of Indigenous staff and corporate knowledge from the Australian Public Service;
         and
         a tendency to adopt a "clean slate" approach rather than learning from best practice in
         existing programs.
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The Australian Democrats’ spokesperson on Indigenous Affairs, Senator Aden Ridgeway, says
the Government's lynchpin of Indigenous policy - mutual obligation through Shared Responsibility
Agreements (SRAs) - only highlights the disarray of its current mainstreaming policy.

He said, "The Democrats conclude from evidence given to the Senate Committee on the
Administration of Indigenous Affairs that this Government and its departments do not know how
SRAs are going to function. All evidence shows SRAs are ad hoc agreements applied in an ad
hoc way but they are being trumpeted as the new way forward for Indigenous people. There is no
process for accountability and transparency of negotiations and outcomes, and no statement of
targets and goals of achievement across all levels of Government."

Senator Ridgeway described the current mainstreaming policy as underdeveloped and the so-
called new arrangements as chaotic.

The Democrats support the majority report of the Senate Select Committee on the Administration
of Indigenous Affairs but have contributed comments and stronger recommendations on
representation; use of ATSIC assets and the retention of ATSIC Regional Councils.

The report, including the supplementary report and the minority report, is available at:
http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/indigenousaffairs_ctte
Comment from Senator Kim Carr, Shadow Minister for Public Administration and Open
Government, Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation and the Arts e-mail: senator.carr@aph.gov.au
Senator Ridgeway senator.ridgeway@aph.gov.au

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[5] Senate to probe Iraq ‘interrogations’
The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee will investigate issues around
Australian involvement in interrogations of prisoners in Iraq and the role of the Iraq Survey Group,
following revelations by weapons inspector Rod Barton that call into question Government claims
that no Australians were present during interrogations.

The motion to refer the matter to the committee, which will report by June 21, was moved jointly
by Labor, the Democrats and the Greens. Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Chris
Evans, said on February 8, that the day following Minister Hill’s statement to Parliament on 16
June 2004, two senior officers contacted Defence concerned that the Minister’s statement had
not told the full story.

Senator Evans’s notice of motion calls for information on:

(a) Whether any Australian personnel (including employees, contractors and consultants) were
present, or had duties which included being present, during any interrogations or interviews
(however defined) of persons detained in relation to the war in Iraq, and in particular those
persons suspected of having knowledge of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction;

(b) Whether any knowledge of, or concerns regarding, the treatment of those Iraqi detainees was
provided to Australian Government Departments, agencies and Ministers, and what actions
resulted from the provision of this information;

(c) Whether the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) were able to report frankly and fearlessly on what they
had found, or whether attempts were made to censor or otherwise distort their findings; and
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(d) Whether any Australian personnel provided information or concerns to any part of the
Australian government relating to concerns about the functions or reports of the Iraq Survey
Group, and what actions resulted from the provision of this information.

For more information, call Senator Evans’s office (02) 6277 3233 or (08) 9481 4844
e-mail: senator.evans@aph.gov.au
Or the Committee secretariat (02) 6277 3536

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[6] Human rights dialogue inquiry

The Human Rights Sub-Committee, of the Joint Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs,
Defence and Trade, will hold a public hearing on Australia’s Human Rights Dialogue Process on
March 14 2005 in 1R3 at Parliament House, Canberra.

In 1997, the Australian Government initiated a high level bilateral dialogue on human rights with
China. Similar formal talks commenced with Vietnam in May 2002 and with Iran in December
2002 the aim of which is “to hold frank and constructive discussions to demonstrate the
commitment of both countries to the talks and the overall strength of their bilateral ties with
Australia.”

The Committee, chaired by Senator Marise Payne, will examine Australia’s Human Rights
Dialogue Process, with particular reference to:
    • parliamentary participation and oversight;
    • involvement of non-government organisations;
    • the roles and obligations of participating agencies;
    • reporting requirements and mechanisms; and
    • the monitoring and evaluation of outcomes.

At the hearing, the Committee will take evidence from a range of Commonwealth agencies,
including the Department of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, the Attorney-General’s
Department, the Australian Agency for International Development, and the Human Rights and
Equal Opportunity Commission.

From the non-government sector, the Committee will hear from the Australian Council for
International Development and Amnesty International Australia.

For more information, contact the Secretary on 02 6277 4624 or visit the inquiry website at
www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jfadt/hrdialogue/hrindex.htm

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[7] Trafficking in women and children

The Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee has tabled a unanimous report
critical of Government legislation relating to the trafficking in persons especially women and
children.

According to the Opposition spokesman for justice, Senator Joe Ludwig, the Criminal Code
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(Trafficking in Persons Offences) Bill 2004, “as it stands simply does not do what it’s supposed to
– that is meet the requirements of the UN Protocol.”

The Minister for Justice, Senator Chris Ellison, said in December that the Bill “… ensures
Australia meets, and actually exceeds its obligations under the United Nations Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.” (Speech
8/12/2004)

The Committee’s report says, “…legislation seeking 'to comprehensively criminalise all forms of
trafficking in persons' ought to cover unambiguously all forms of exploitation contemplated by the
Protocol. After considering the available evidence, the Committee is not persuaded this will be
achieved…” (p18)

For more information call the office of the Minister for Justice (02) 6277 7260
senator.ellison@aph.gov.au
Senator Ludwig (02) 6277 3460 or (07) 3804 6022 senator.ludwig@aph.gov.au
The Report can be downloaded at
http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/legcon_ctte/trafficking/report/report.pdf

***
Human rights reports

Recent news releases by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International include:
Amnesty International has welcomes the European Union (EU) Parliament resolution urging the
Nigerian government to hand over former Liberian President Charles Taylor to the Special Court
for Sierra Leone.
Past and current Amnesty news services can be found at
<http://www.amnesty.org/news/>.
Turkey: Police brutality against peaceful demonstrators
AI Index: EUR 44/008/2005 March 7 2005
View all documents on Turkey at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maadgm9abeSKVbfE1obb
Yemen: Amnesty International calls for investigation of beatings of defence lawyers of Abdul
Karim al-Khaiwani; AI Index: MDE 31/001/2005             March 8 2005
View all documents on Yemen at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maadgspabeS1lbfE1obb/
Angola: The establishment of the Justice Ombudsman should comply with international
standards AI Index: AFR 12/002/2005            7 March 2005
View all documents on Angola at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maadgm7abeSKRbfE1obb
Syria: End human rights violations against the Syrian Kurds AI Index: MDE 24/009/2005
10 March 2005
A culture oppressed the torture and imprisonment of Syrian Kurds http://amnesty-
news.c.topica.com/maadgZMabeXwybfE1obb/
Report at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maadgZMabeXC8bfE1obb/
View all documents on Syria at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maadgZMabeXwzbfE1obb/


US Administration’s complete 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices can be found at:
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/index.htm or call Peter Gilbert, Information Resource
Centre, Office of Public Affairs, US Consulate General, Sydney ph: 02 9373 9229 e-mail:
gilbertpb@state.gov
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[8] Senate’s concern over proliferation of WMD

The Senate passed on March 10 an Australian Democrats' motion expressing deep concern over
the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and also calling on the Australian Government to
increase its role in encouraging global disarmament efforts.

Today, March 11, nuclear disarmament experts met in Parliament House for the Nuclear
Challenge Seminar to highlight the joint aims of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review
which will be held in New York in May.

Democrats Leader Senator Allison, who chaired the event, said the New York conference will
review the last five years' progress towards disarmament and dismantling of nuclear weapons
across the globe.

The Democrats motion will be conveyed to foreign ministries and UN missions of all participants
in the NPT Review Conference. It states that the Senate:

a)      Notes the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference commencing in New
York on May 1 2005 and the vital importance of the NPT as an instrument of both nuclear
disarmament and non-proliferation,
b)      Expresses its deep concern over
i)     the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and particularly those with nuclear weapons
    capabilities.
ii) the danger to humanity posed by the possibility that nuclear weapons could be used and at
    the lack of implementation of binding obligations and agreed steps towards nuclear
    disarmament.
c)      Calls for the full implementation of all relevant articles of the Treaty including Articles I and II
on non-proliferation and Article VI on the achievement of nuclear disarmament.
d)      Affirms the vital importance of the unequivocal undertaking made at the Year 2000 NPT
Review conference by the nuclear weapons states, to accomplish the total and unequivocal
elimination of their nuclear weapons arsenals, and of the 13 steps agreed to at that meeting.
e)      Urges the Government to
i)     pursue a balanced and integrated approach on both disarmament and non-proliferation
    fronts at the NTP Review.
ii) call on nuclear weapons states and nuclear weapons capable states not to develop new
    types of nuclear weapons, or new rationalizations for their threat or use, in accordance with
    their commitment to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in their security policies;
iii) call for concrete agreed steps by nuclear weapons states and nuclear weapons -capable
    states to lower the operating status of nuclear weapons systems in their possession, as called
    for by Australia's L23 Path to a Nuclear Free World.
f)     Welcomes the appeal, signed by 25 Nobel prize-winners, calling on the governments of the
United States, Russia, China, France, and the UK, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea, to
support and implement steps to lower the operational status of their nuclear weapon systems in
order to reduce the risk of nuclear catastrophe;
g)      Notes and strongly affirms continued efforts by the Government to secure universal
adherence to, and ratification of, the CTBT.
h)      Requests that this resolution is conveyed to the foreign ministries and UN missions of all
participants in the NPT Review conference, the UN secretary-general, the Director- General of
the IAEA, and the Chair of the 2005 NPT Review conference, as well as India, Pakistan and
Israel
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For more information,
Senator Lyn Allison senator.allison@aph.gov.au
Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (02) 6277 7500 www.dfat.gov.au

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[9] Women's Rights Watch launched
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A new campaign - Women’s Rights Watch – was launched on International Women’s Day in
Australia via the Australian Democrats' website. The Women's Rights Watch website includes:
   • an email alert service for those who want to take action in protecting women's rights;
   • fact sheets on a range of issues as well as a myths and facts section on abortion and a
        pro-choice petition; and
   • Profiles on 'wonder women' - women active in pursuing equality.
The website is at www.democrats.org.au/campaigns/womens_rights_watch/

A national postcard distribution campaign highlights the following facts:
    • Women's total wages are 50% lower than men's
    • A lack of childcare places and its high cost robs around 160,000 women of the choice to
        work - Australia has one of the lowest female workforce participation rates in the OECD
    • A handful of powerful politicians are trying to limit women's access to termination and
        contraception
    • Australia lacks government-funded paid maternity leave
            o million women experience domestic violence
    • The law discriminates against single women and lesbian couples who want IVF or to
        adopt
    • Over 100,000 single mothers are living in poverty
    • Men hold 70% of seats in Parliament and most positions of power

Go to: Senator Allison's Adjournment speech on International Women's Day
E-mail: senator.allison@aph.gov.au

Women diplomats

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, opened a new exhibition celebrating the
contribution made by Australian women to international diplomacy since the early 1900s.

Women Working for Australia pays tribute to the women who, against the prejudices and
constraints of their era, played a role on the international stage and in Australia’s diplomatic
service.

The exhibition also highlights the recent achievements of the many talented women now
employed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Women today comprise more than 49
per cent of the department’s staff. Women make up 25.5 per cent of the Senior Executive
Service compared with 12.5 per cent in 1996. Australia has 18 diplomatic posts headed by
women, compared with six in 1996.

Women Working for Australia, on display in the atrium of the Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade in Canberra, has also been exhibited in New York during meetings of the UN’s
Commission on the Status of Women. The exhibition’s international launch has commemorated
the 30th anniversary of the United Nations International Year of Women and the 10th anniversary
of the World Conference on Women held in Beijing.

Women Working for Australia will continue to tour internationally, including to Manila during this
year’s Centennial of the Feminist Movement in the Philippines.

UN Secretary-General’s message

Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan for International Women’s Day,
observed on 8 March:
This year marks a milestone in the movement for gender equality and the advancement of
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women -- the 10-year review of the Beijing Conference and Platform for Action. In 1995, women
gathered in Beijing and took a giant step forward on behalf of humankind. As a result, the world
recognized explicitly, as never before, that gender equality is critical to the development and
peace of every nation. Ten years on, women are not only more aware of their rights; they are
more able to exercise them.
Over this decade, we have seen tangible progress on many fronts. Life expectancy and fertility
rates have improved. More girls are enrolled in primary education. More women are earning an
income than ever before. At the same time, new challenges have emerged. Consider the
trafficking of women and children -- an odious but increasingly common practice. Or the
increasing targeting of women in armed conflict. Or the terrifying growth of HIV/AIDS among
women -- especially young women.
Yet as we look back on the past decade, one thing stands out above all else: we have learnt that
the challenges facing women are not problems without solutions. We have learnt what works and
what doesn’t. If we are to change the historical legacy that puts women at a disadvantage in most
societies, we must implement what we have learnt on a larger scale. We must take specific,
targeted action in a number of areas.
This year offers a precious opportunity for doing that, as the world’s leaders prepare to gather for
a summit at the United Nations in September to review progress in implementing the Millennium
Declaration, agreed in 2000 by all the world’s governments as a blueprint for building a better
world in the twenty-first century. As part of that process, I would urge the international community
to remember that promoting gender equality is not only women’s responsibility -- it is the
responsibility of all of us.
Sixty years have passed since the founders of the United Nations inscribed, on the first page of
our Charter, the equal rights of women and men. Since then, study after study has taught us that
there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy
is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality. No other
policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health -- including the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
No other policy is as powerful in increasing the chances of education for the next generation. And
I would venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving
reconciliation after a conflict has ended.
Whatever the very real benefits of investing in women, the most important fact remains: women
themselves have the right to live in dignity, in freedom from want and freedom from fear. On this
International Women’s Day, let us rededicate ourselves to making that a reality.

WFP targets aid to women

The United Nations World Food Program chose the theme of "Lessening the Burden of Women"
for this year's International Women's Day (IWD) as part of its worldwide effort to turn into reality
its commitments to empower women and improve their lives.

This year, WFP       launched a Catherine Bertini Award in honour of the agency's previous
Executive Director. During her ten-year tenure (1992-2002), Ms Bertini initiated WFP's global
practice of targeting women as the key recipients of food aid, to ensure that the food reaches
those who need it most.

For more information contact: Brenda.Barton@wfp.org
Deputy Director Communications, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39-06-65132602 website: www.wfp.org

Women’s rights ‘going backwards’

The Women’s Rights Action Network Australia (WRANA) concludes from the results of a recent
survey that women’s human rights in Australia, while showing progress in some areas, are going
backwards.

Caroline Lambert, Co-Convenor of the WRANA says, “Women from across Australia have
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reported a drastic reduction is services. It is getting harder for them to access health services and
to afford housing, education, and legal representation.”

The report, Our Rights, Our Voices: the National Community Report Card on Women’s Human
Rights in Australia was compiled from information from more than 1000 women and covered each
state and territory. It drew on information in English, Arabic, Vietnamese and Chinese. WRANA
says the report documents institutional failures across key areas of health, education, work,
housing, violence, the law and leadership.

The Women’s Report Card will form the basis of a submission to the 2006 review of Australia’s
implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Women (CEDAW).

The report is available at http://home.vicnet.net.au/~wrana/
For more information, call Caroline Lambert (03) 9443 0086
E-mail: wrana_projects@yahoo.com.au
For a full copy of Amnesty International’s No turning back -- full implementation of women's
human rights go to: http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maaddLoabev0QbfE1obb/

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[10] Debt moratorium for tsunami-hit countries
The Australian Government has agreed to join other creditor countries in offering the
governments of tsunami-affected countries a moratorium on scheduled debt repayments for
2005. The debt moratorium will be in addition to the direct assistance already committed by Paris
Club members.

Annoucing the moratorium, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, said, “Australia
remains of the view that direct, targeted assistance is the best option for these countries. The
Paris Club has agreed to defer payments of principal and interest on Official Development
Assistance (ODA) loans and, depending on the country, certain categories of sovereign non-ODA
loans. The deferred payments will be repaid from 2006 to 2009.”

For more information, contact Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (02) 6277 7500
www.dfat.gov.au or the office of the Minister for Trade, Mr Vaile 02 6277 7420

Tim O'Connor | Campaigner | AID/WATCH - Ph 02 9557 8944 E aid@aidwatch.org.au
http://www.aidwatch.org.au



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[11] HREOC inquiry into jobs for disabled
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) has launched a national Inquiry
into employment for people with disabilities in Australia. The Inquiry will consult and cooperate
with government agencies, employers, people with disabilities, community groups, unions and
employment service providers to put strategies in place to improve work opportunities for people
with disabilities.
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The Inquiry is now calling for public submissions and aims to publish its findings and
recommendations in November 2005.

Human Rights Commissioner and Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Sev
Ozdowski, said equal opportunity for Australians with disabilities was a fundamental human rights
concern as well as being a significant economic issue.

“This national independent Inquiry will look at a broad range of barriers that face people with
disabilities in seeking work, and issues for employers in recruiting, retaining or fully utilising
employees with disabilities.”

Around 20% of Australians have some sort of disability. Only 53% of people with disabilities of
working age are in the workforce, compared to 80% for other Australians. They have a higher
unemployment rate than other Australian workers (8.6% compared to 5%) and lower incomes.
These numbers have not improved considerably over the last decade - and in some areas have
actually got worse.

Terms of Reference
The inquiry will seek to:
(a) Identify existing systemic barriers to equal employment opportunity for people with disabilities;
(b) Examine data on employment outcomes for people with disabilities including workforce
participation, unemployment and income levels; and
(c) Examine policies, practices, services and special measures implemented to advance equal
employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Further information on the National Inquiry (including a series of Issues Papers) is available
online at www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/employment_inquiry.

***
Cornelia Rau inquiry

People who have information which can help the University of Newcastle Legal Centre's support
for Cornelia Rau and her family for an independent inquiry into her treatment in Baxter
Immigration Detention Centre should contact:
Associate Professor Ray Watterson
University of Newcastle Legal Centre
School of Law Ph. (02) 4921 8666 Fax (02) 4921 8866
e-mail: ray.watterson@newcastle.edu.au


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[12] Internet and suicide

The Government intends to criminalise use of the internet to counsel or incite suicide by
reintroducing the Criminal Code Amendment (Suicide Related Material Offences) Bill which
lapsed when Parliament was prorogued for last year’s general election.

The original Bill was referred to the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Committee, but the inquiry
was not completed, again because of the election. It is expected that the new Bill will be referred
to the same Senate Committee, to complete its inquiry.

Welcoming the reintroduction of the draft legislation, Shadow Minister for Justice, Senator Joe
Ludwig, said, “We have to be sure that the Bill strikes the appropriate balance that allows us
Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
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protection of young people and those with depression while ensuring adults are still able to
research information, be informed and debate euthanasia and suicide-related issues.

“The problem of suicide exacts a heavy toll on the community, particularly on the families and
friends of young victims. In 2003, there were over 2,300 registered suicides in Australia. …”

For more information call the office of the Minister for Justice (02) 6277 7260
senator.ellison@aph.gov.au
Senator Ludwig (02) 6277 3460 or (07) 3804 6022 senator.ludwig@aph.gov.au

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[13] E.Timor sea boundary talks

A 'people's delegation' sought to represent the Australian public at maritime boundary
negotiations between the Governments of Australia and East Timor in Canberra on March 7. The
delegation consisted of Bishop Hilton Deakin, Senator Bob Brown, businessman Ian Melrose, 91-
year-old Mavis Taylor, former InterFET soldier Chip Henriss-Anderssen and Tom Clarke from the
Timor Sea Justice Campaign. The group claim that they went to the talks because the official
Australian negotiating team “is not accurately reflecting the Australian peoples' values of fairness
and justice.”

An open letter can be viewed online at: www.timorseajustice.org/openletter.htm
A letter from US Congress members can be viewed online
at: www.timorseajustice.org/usa_openletter.htm

Mapping for East Timor's Future

The Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO) has successfully completed the first
comprehensive aerial photography and mapping project of East Timor. The project began in
2001, when the Australian Department of Defence signed a memorandum of understanding with
the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

Thousands of aerial photos taken over the past four years were transferred to the Geospatial
Analysis Centre (GAC) in Bendigo, where the maps of East Timor were produced. The data
helped East Timor and UNTAET conduct the nation's first census and is expected to assist in
infrastructure planning and development.

For more information, call the office of the Minister for Defence (02) 6277 7800
www.defence.gov.au
Minister for Foreign Affairs (02) 6277 7500 www.dfat.gov.au
Kevin Rudd (02) 6277 4941 e-mail: Kevin.Rudd.MP@aph.gov.au


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[14] Diplomatic appointment

Greg Moriarty has been appointed Australia's Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran. He
will replace Jeremy Newman, who has been Ambassador since April 2001. Mr Moriarty takes up
his position this month.

In announcing Mr Moriarty’s appointment, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer,
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referred only obliquely to the current controversy over Iran’s nuclear program. He said, “Australia
values its constructive relationship with Iran, which includes serious and frank dialogue on
important issues. Iran has a substantial role to play in contributing to both international and
regional security and we look forward to working together to further shared interests in this area.
…”

Mr Moriarty was most recently Assistant Secretary, Maritime South East Asia Branch, in the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Before taking up this position in early March
2003, he was Director of the Papua New Guinea Section. His previous experience includes
service as Counsellor and head of the Political Section in the Australian Embassy in Indonesia,
and as First Secretary in the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea. He has also
been Director of the South Pacific Bilateral Section in DFAT and Chief Negotiator with the four-
country Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville. Prior to joining the Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade, he worked as an intelligence analyst with the Department of Defence.

For more information, call the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (02) 6277 7500
www.dfat.gov.au

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Publications
[15] Labour laws, current and future

Surely authors Breen Creighton and Andrew Stewart must believe all their Christmases have
come, if not at once, at least two together. Their fourth edition of Labour Law (The Federation
Press) came off the presses in February and within months the government intends to change the
laws that govern Australia’s industrial scene. Rather than being rendered immediately out of date,
this 784-page reference book will be of enormous importance to industrial negotiators, union
officials, politicians and many others as they compare current laws with the “reforms” the
government intends to put in place. The authors acknowledge the forthcoming changes that will
flow when the government gains control of the Senate.

From a UN point of view, the book details Australia’s obligations under the International Labour
Organisation conventions and other UN instruments. Given the Federal Government has given
notice that it can and probably will legislate uniform industrial laws under the current Corporations
law, the authors note, somewhat wryly, that much the same could be achieved under the external
affairs powers. The Government has not been so assiduous in signing up to ILO conventions as it
might on the somewhat spurious grounds that Australian industrial standards are broader than
those in some Conventions. The authors note, “Ratification of these promotional Conventions can
perform a useful function in terms of committing governments to the pursuit of entirely worthy
policy objectives, but they might in some instances constitute a somewhat fragile foundation for
prescriptive Commonwealth legislation in reliance on the external affairs power.”

The authors draw attention to the wide scope of ILO Conventions covering human rights to health
and safety matters, all of which could provide a basis for national, if minimalist, legislation.
                                                                           Reviewed by Ian Mathews

Labour Law (4th.ed), by Breen Creighton and Andrew Stewart, [ISBN 1 8627 543 X] published by
Federation Press, Sydney (02)9552 2200 info@federationpress.com website:
www.federationpress.com.au

Decline and decline of union power

Apart from the historically universal holy day holidays of Easter and Christmas, virtually every
Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
Promoting the Social Sciences
other holiday, hours of work, rates of pay, conditions or terms of work have been wrung from
employers by unions. So successful were they from the late 19th century to the mid-1980s that
workers today feel they can generally do without them. Hence the decline in membership as the
workforce, encouraged by government, seeks to set individual pay and conditions.

As each union fought for better deals for its members, so union competition emerged as a threat
to worker unity. In an attempt to overcome this rivalry, peak unions or labour councils were
formed to find common ground, complementary needs and to present a united front. That story is
told in a collection of essays in Peak Unions in Australia edited by Bradon Ellem, Raymond
Markey and John Shields.

Peak Unions in Australia: Origins, Purpose, Power, Agency, eds Bradon Ellem, Raymond Markey
and John Shields [ISBN 1 86287 530 8] published by Federation Press, Sydney (02)9552 2200
info@federationpress.com website: www.federationpress.com.au


Monitoring gene technology

Quarterly Report of the Gene Technology Regulator [ISBN 0642 82588 2] published by the
Department of Health and Ageing records how many licences for genetically modified organisms
are issued each quarter; lists any breaches of licence conditions; and records the outcomes of
audits and monitoring of GMOs.

Applications covered research such as on salt tolerant wheat; alteration of grain starch in wheat;
herbicide tolerant and insect resistant cotton; commercial release of herbicide tolerant cotton for
use in Australian cropping system.

The report lists also consultations with expert groups and key stakeholders on the identification of
risks to human health and safety and/or the environment relating to applications for licences for
genetically modified sugar cane, rice, salt tolerant wheat, grain starch; and herbicide
tolerant/insect resistant cotton.

For a copy of the report call the Office of Gene Technology Regulator 1800 181 030 e-mail:
ogtr@health.gov.au website: www.ogtr.gov.au

National Environment Protection Council

National Environment Protection Council Annual Report 2003-2004 [ISBN 0642 323 852] In the
politically divisive world of the environment the Council must have the hide of a protected
rhinoceros given that it is made up of ministers from each State and Territory under the chair of
the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage. It is surprising, then, to see the degree of
cooperation and constructive achievement in various areas ranging from air toxins to discarded
packaging.

For more information, call NEPC (08) 8419 1200 e-mail: exec@ephc.gov.au
website: www.ephc.gov.au

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[16] New auditor-general

Ian McPhee PSM has been appointed Auditor-General following the retirement of Mr Pat Barrett
AO. Mr McPhee has been a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Finance and Administration
since 2003.
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Under the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act 1951, the Joint Committee of Public
Accounts and Audit is required to approve or reject a proposed recommendation for an
appointment to the office of Auditor-General.

In announcing the Committee’s unanimous approval of Mr McPhee’s appointment as Auditor-
General, Chair of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, Mr Bob Baldwin MP, said
“the Auditor-General is an independent officer of the Parliament and so it is important that the
Committee has the power to scrutinise and, if it deems necessary, reject a nomination to this
position”.

“Mr Ian McPhee is a dedicated and highly competent person who brings a wealth of experience to
the position. He was formerly a long serving employee of the Australian National Audit Office,
gaining experience at the highest levels of the organisation as Deputy Auditor-General from 1998
to 2003. He left the Audit Office to become a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Finance and
Administration.”
For more information, contact the Committee Secretary on telephone (02) 6277 4615 or visit the
Committee’s website at www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jpaa
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[17] Adverse audit on radiation and nuclear activities
Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
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Regulation of Commonwealth Radiation and Nuclear Activities - Audit Report No.30 2004-05
[ISSN 1036-7632 ISBN 0 642 80827 9]. The Australian National Audit Office latest audit reports
demonstrates how valuable this independent body is. The Auditor General reports to the
Parliament, not to the Government and is thus demonstrably independent of ministerial influence.

The report is critical of a range of administrative processes within the Australian Radiation and
Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) covering conflict of interest, under-recovery of costs, lack of
documentation, lack of guidance to staff on licence matters; lack of monitoring of licence
conditions; lack of a risk-based program for inspections; and more.

The Audit Office concluded that improvements were required in management of ARPANSA’s
regulatory function, especially in planning, risk management and performance management.
ARPANSA accepts all 19 recommendations for improvement.

For a copy of the report access www.anao.gov.au or call (02) 6203 7505

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[18] Australia votes against cloning

Australia voted with the majority in the United Nations General Assembly this week to approve a
non-binding declaration calling on all UN Member States to ban all forms of human cloning,
including cloning for medical treatment, as incompatible with human dignity and the protection of
human life.

By a vote of 84 in favour, 34 against and 37 abstaining, with 36 absent, the Assembly acted on
the recommendation of its Legal, or Sixth, Committee to adopt the text, called the United Nations
Declaration on Human Cloning. But some delegates said they opposed banning therapeutic
cloning.

The Declaration, negotiated by a Working Group last month, also banned "genetic engineering
techniques that may be contrary to human dignity." It called on States "to prevent the exploitation
of women in the application of life sciences" and "to protect adequately human life in the
application of life sciences."

For full details, access: www.un.org/

[19] Saving mothers and babies

Every year more than half a million women die from pregnancy-related causes and 10.6 million
children die, 40 per cent of them in the first month of life. Most occur in developing countries and
most could be prevented with present treatments. There is a disproportionate death rate among
Indigenous Australian mothers in childbirth, and among their young children.

This year’s World Health Day on April 7 and the World Health Organisation’s World Health Report
will focus on “the invisible health crisis which results in the deaths of women having babies, and
of young children.”

The aim and objectives of World Health Day 2005 is to create momentum that compels
governments, the international community, civil society and individuals to take action to improve
the health and well-being of mothers and children – and especially to help save the lives of
millions of mothers and children who are dying each year during childbirth and early childhood.
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For more information, access: www.who.int/world-health-day

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[20] Human Security through the UN Millennium Agenda

The UNA Lobby, the largest parliamentary lobby on the UN in the UK, has called for sustained
and increased British commitment to the achievement of human security through the UN
Millennium Agenda. At a meeting on March 9, the Lobby focused on the UK’s contribution to
achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals; advancing nuclear non-proliferation and
strengthening UN Human Rights machinery.

For more information on the Lobby go to: www.una-uk.org/lobby/lobby05.html.


                Daily news about the United Nations can be accessed at:
UN News www.un.org/apps/news/
UN Wire un.wire@smartbrief.com
UN Connections, the World Federation of UN Associations newsletter, send an e-mail to:
unconnections_subscribe@topica.e-mail-publisher.com or access: www.wfuna.org

 Items [21] Diary Dates and [22] Job vacancies are in the Supplement to UNity transmitted
                                        separately

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