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International Development: UN expert on foreign debt and human rights to visit Australia

GENEVA (4 February 2011) – UN Independent Expert Cephas Lumina will visit Australia from 7 to 11 February 2011 to assess the impact of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) policies and programmes on the realization of human rights and the right to development, as well as the achievement of the Millenum Developent Goals in recipient countries.

“I will also explore the role of human rights within AusAID and assess the relation between Australia’s aid and trade negotiations, including free trade agreements with the Pacific islands,” said Mr. Lumina announcing the first fact-finding mission to the country by an Independent Expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the effects of foreign debt on human rights.

The Independent Expert will meet with Government officials, Development Effectiveness Steering Committee and with civil society representatives. He will also have discussions with international financial institutions, development agencies and academics.

A press conference on the preliminary conclusions of the visit will be held on Friday, 11 February at 11 a.m. at the United Nations Information Centre, at 1/7 National Circuit, Barton, Canberra.

The UN Independent Expert’s mission to Australia will be followed by a visit to the Solomon Islands, from 14 to 17 February 2011. Further details will be provided as the date approach.

Mr. Lumina was appointed ‘Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights’ by the Human Rights Council in 2008. He is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. The mandate of the Independent Expert covers all countries.

Learn more about the mandate of the Independent Expert, please visit the websites: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/development/debt/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Australia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/AUIndex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Brenda Vukovic (Tel: + 41 797520484; e-mail: ieforeigndebt@ohchr.org), or Christopher Woodthorpe (Tel: +61 433747690; email: christopher.woodthorpe@unic.org)