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United Nations human rights reporting

Australia is required to periodically report to and appear before the relevant United Nations human rights treaty bodies in relation to the implementation of the human rights treaties to which it is a party.

Australia is a party to the seven core international human rights treaties.

Australia is also required to provide a Common Core Document, which includes general information on each State party. The Common Core Document has been lodged with the United Nations and accompanies any report Australia submits under one of the seven core human rights treaties.

The Attorney-General's Department has developed a publicly accessible United Nations human rights recommendations database that draws together UN human rights treaty body recommendations for Australia from treaties and reviews that Australia is a party to. This database is current as at 2014 and will be updated to include recommendations made as part of Australia’s more recent treaty body appearances.

Universal Periodic Review

Australia also engages with the Universal Periodic Review process. The Universal Periodic Review is a United Nations human rights reporting process that aims to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur. The United Nations Human Rights Council reviews the human rights records of all 193 member states once every four years.

Treaty reporting process

Treaty bodies are responsible for overseeing states' effective implementation of treaties and are made up of experts in the subject matter elected by parties to the treaties. The reporting process aims to provide an opportunity to these bodies to examine states' progress on implementing the treaties and to make recommendations for further progress.

Periodic reports outline a State party's implementation of the relevant treaty and are due at intervals as specified in the relevant treaty. At this time, civil society and non-government organisations have the opportunity to submit shadow reports to the relevant United Nations human rights committee, outlining their views about how Australia is complying with its treaty obligations.

A State party is then scheduled to appear before the relevant committee and engage in a constructive dialogue, receiving further questions from the committee about the content of Australia's report and other issues arising under the treaty. Following the appearance, the relevant committee then issues concluding observations.

​​​​​​Concluding observations represent the committee’s views in regard to how Australia is progressing in implementing and adhering to its treaty obligations. Concluding observations do not extend the legally binding obligations of the relevant treaties to which Australia is a party. Concluding observations include recommendations by the committee for enhanced implementation of the treaty obligations and also provide important information about the interpretation of those obligations.

The Australian Government considers all concluding observations and the Australian Government response to the committee’s concluding observations usually forms the basis of Australia's next periodic report under that specific treaty.