Australia and Human Rights

Author and Page information

  • by Anup Shah
  • This Page Last Updated Monday, September 04, 2000

Australia has received numerous criticisms for its human rights violations. Issues include:

On this page:

  1. Historic oppression of the Aboriginal People
  2. Threat of reducing human rights commitments with the United Nations
  3. Increasing racist sentiments against Asian immigrants
  4. More Information

Historic oppression of the Aboriginal People

In a wealthy and prosperous nation, aboriginal people live in third world conditions.

Australia has had a very racist past in which apartheid has been practiced and where indigenous Aboriginal people have lost almost all their land and suffered many prejudices. Aborigines are the poorest group in Australia and suffer from very much preventable diseases. For more about these issues, you can start at these harrowing reports from John Pilger1 a prominent Australian journalist who has been critical of many western policies.

"In 1987, a sensational "discovery" was made by a Sydney University team, led by Australia's most celebrated pre-historian, Professor D J Mulvaney. They reported that the Australian population in 1788 was 750,000, or three times the previous estimate. They concluded that more than 600,000 people had died as result of white settlement."

John Pilger2, New Statesman, July 10, 2000

Back to top

Threat of reducing human rights commitments with the United Nations

Australia has recently decided to reduce cooperation with the United Nations on human rights issues because the UN criticized it.

In placing the state above the individual, the government is tacitly encouraging other countries like Burma and China to act by any standards they choose," Amnesty said. "Other governments in the region may thank them for it, but the individuals they attack torture and kill, will not."

The government of Prime Minister John Howard, described as a right-wing government that has continued to cold-shoulder the United Nations, has also warned that it will reject "unwarranted requests" from UN treaty committees to delay the deportation by Australia of "unsuccessful asylum seekers."

The cabinet also decided that it will not sign or ratify the optional protocol to the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Thalif Deen, Australia Threatens to Bar UN Human Rights Committees3, IPS News, August 29, 2000

Back to top

Increasing racist sentiments against Asian immigrants

As introduced in the racism4 section on this site, there has been an increase in racial tensions in some areas of Australia.

Back to top

More Information

You could start at the following for more information:

  • A series of articles, reports and documentaries from John Pilger5, a prominent Australian journalist who has been critical of many western policies.
  • Various reports and publications6 from Amnesty International.
  • "Australia Undermining Global Human Rights7" press release from Human Rights Watch

Back to top

Where next?

This article is part of the following collection:

Online Sources:

(Note that listed here are only those hyperlinks to other articles from other web sites or elsewhere on this web site. Other sources such as journal, books and magazines, are mentioned above in the original text. Please also note that links to external sites are beyond my control. They might become unavailable temporarily or permanently since you read this, depending on the policies of those sites, which I cannot unfortunately do anything about.)

  4. Global Issues: “Racism”, Last updated: Sunday, August 08, 2010,

Author and Page Information

  • by Anup Shah
  • Created: Monday, July 20, 1998
  • Last Updated: Monday, September 04, 2000

Back to top