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Whitlam Oration: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

Whitlam Oration: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

The Whitlam Institute is delighted that this year's Whitlam Oration will be delivered by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who will address guests on Australia’s Role in Human Rights in a Changing World on 9 October 2019.

On 1 September 2018 Michelle Bachelet assumed her functions as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was established in 1993 and Ms. Bachelet is the seventh Commissioner.

Ms. Bachelet was elected President of Chile on two occasions (2006 – 2010 and 2014 – 2018). She was the first female president of Chile. She served as Health Minister (2000-2002) as well as Chile’s and Latin America’s first female Defense Minister (2002 – 2004).

During her presidential tenures, she promoted the rights of all but particularly those of the most vulnerable. Among her many achievements were education and tax reforms, as well as the creation of the National Institute for Human Rights and the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, as well as the establishment of the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality, the adoption of quotas to increase women’s political participation, and the approval of Civil Union Act legislation, granting rights to same sex couples and thus, advancing LGBT rights.

After finishing her second term in March 2018, she was named Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, an alliance of more than 1000 organizations in 192 countries from the sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health communities. As Co-Chair of the High-Level Steering Group for Every Woman Every Child, Ms. Bachelet launched Every Woman Every Child Latin America and the Caribbean, the first platform for tailored, regional implementation of the EWEC Global Strategy

In 2011, she was named the first Director of UN Women, an organization dedicated to fighting for the rights of women and girls internationally.  Economic empowerment and ending violence against women were two of her priorities during her tenure.

As a 23-year-old medical student, Ms Bachelet was imprisoned under Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile - during the term of the Whitlam Government, she came to Australia as a political refugee. The Whitlam Institute is delighted to be part of her upcoming visit to Australia.

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In the media:

Climate crisis is greatest ever threat to human rights, UN warns
Article by Agence France-Presse in the Guardian, 10 September 2019

Michelle Bachelet: New UN human rights chief was one of Australia's first political refugees    Article by Greg Jennet and Erin Handley on ABC News, 21 November 2018

Michelle Bachelet: New UN human rights chief was one of Australia's first political refugees

Article by Greg Jennet and Erin Handley on ABC News, 21 November 2018

12yo Alice Springs boy to speak at United Nations in push to change Australia's age of criminality    Article by Rachel Clayton ABC News 11 Sept 2019

12yo Alice Springs boy to speak at United Nations in push to change Australia's age of criminality

Article by Rachel Clayton ABC News 11 Sept 2019