Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Richard Marles will this week join the Australian delegation led by Prime Minister Gillard at the United Nations General Assembly Leaders' Week in New York – the single largest annual gathering of world leaders and ministers.
Mr Marles will attend a series of high-level meetings on the rule of law, women's rights, education, democracy, and international efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Assistance to fragile and conflict-affected states will be a particular focus.
Mr Marles will also participate in a number of events on the protection of women's rights in conflict, including: the High-Level Event on Women's Access to Justice hosted by the Presidents of South Africa and Finland and UN Women; an event on Preventing Sexual and Gender-based Crimes in Conflict and Securing Justice for Survivors, hosted by British Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Women; and the Every Woman Every Child Reception hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"We are committed to ensuring that women, both in Australia and across the world, are equal before the law and have equal opportunity to participate in governance and decision-making, including in times of conflict," Mr Marles said.
Education will be a major focus for the Australian delegation. Mr Marles will speak at an event chaired by UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on Delivering Quality Education in Humanitarian Environments and Conflict-Affected States – an initiative of the Global Partnership for Education.
"Conflict and humanitarian emergencies reverse hard-won development gains and undermine access to education. In conflict-affected poor countries, 28 million children of primary school age do not attend school," Mr Marles said.
Mr Marles will also join a meeting of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and development partners to discuss how the Rio+20 follow-up process can contribute to LDCs' development goals.
Mr Marles will co-host, with Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno Charme, an International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) Ministerial Event to promote the Global Commission's report, "Deepening Democracy: A Strategy for Improving the Integrity of Elections Worldwide", a joint initiative with the Kofi Annan Foundation. Australia is the Chair of International IDEA for 2012.
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