Chapter 1 Introduction
Conduct of the inquiry
The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (the
Committee) initially commenced an inquiry into Australia’s Human Rights
Dialogues under its annual report powers on 23 June 2011, and advertised the
On 25 June 2011, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Kevin
Rudd MP, asked the Committee to inquire into and report on the effectiveness of
Australia’s Human Rights Dialogues with China and Vietnam (the dialogues).
The Committee invited an array of stakeholders, and groups and
individuals with established interest in human rights to submit to the inquiry,
including relevant government departments, non‑government organisations
(NGOs), and civil society groups in Australia.
The Committee received 23 submissions and 17 exhibits from a range of
groups and individuals within Australia and the region.
A considerable amount of evidence contained within the submissions
include names and case information for individuals alleged to be subjected to
human rights violations in Vietnam, China, and Sri Lanka.
The Committee considered all the submissions very carefully and holds
genuine concerns for the welfare of these individuals. For this reason, the
Committee decided to authorise the submissions for publication but redact the names
and any contextual information that could lead to individuals being identified.
The Committee also took evidence from 23 organisations and individuals
at ten public hearings held in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane over
the course of the inquiry.
Structure of the report
The Committee’s report is structured around the inquiry’s terms of
reference. This introductory chapter provides an outline of the conduct of the
Chapter 2 provides an overview of Australia’s Human rights Dialogues to
date, information on the human rights technical cooperation programs which
operate under the framework of the human rights dialogues, as well as the roles
and obligations of participating agencies.
Chapter 3 contains a discussion of whether the dialogues should
incorporate greater parliamentary participation and oversight, particularly looking
at the increased involvement of the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the Joint
Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.
Chapter 4 focuses on the involvement of NGOs in the dialogues to date
and Chapter 5 looks at how the dialogues and the human rights technical
cooperation programs are reported on.
Chapter 6 examines how outcomes from the dialogues are currently
monitored and evaluated, and considers options for ongoing reviews of the
Chapter 7 examines the feasibility of establishing similar human rights
dialogues with other countries and Chapter 8 explores options for complementary
human rights mechanisms.