Thursday, 20 June 2013
International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Amendment Bill 2013; Second Reading
This bill amends the International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1963 to allow for the enactment of regulations to confer privileges and immunities on the International Committee of the Red Cross, the ICRC, and the International Criminal Court, the ICC. This legislation will allow for the arrangement between the government of Australia and the International Committee of the Red Cross on a regional headquarters in Australia to take effect. Signed in 2005 under the former Howard government, this arrangement confers legal personality on the ICRC in Australia and other privileges and immunities needed to facilitate its work in Australia and the Pacific region. The ICRC is internationally recognised for its work in providing humanitarian assistance to people affected by armed conflict. In the Pacific, its main focus is the promotion of international humanitarian law and other humanitarian issues with governments, security forces and civil society. The legislation will also provide a basis for implementing the 2002 Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court.
In 2002 the Howard government ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It was the government's view that it was in Australia's national interest for there to be a permanent international judicial body which could deal with grave crimes, as occurred in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Given the potential implications associated with extending immunities and privileges to organisations, the coalition referred the bill to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee for further consideration. That report was delivered in June this year, and the committee has reported back and recommended that the bill be passed. I commend the committee for their timely and judicial deliberations. Obviously, the opposition is in support of this legislation.