Making history

UNSW legal academic Megan Davis has become the first Indigenous woman to be nominated by the Australian Government as an advocate to serve the United Nations.

Megan Davis inside

UNSW legal academic Megan Davis has become the first Indigenous woman to be nominated by an Australian Government as an advocate to serve the United Nations.

Davis - who is Director of UNSW's Indigenous Law Centre - was nominated by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, to be an expert adviser and member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Ms Macklin said the nomination was an important milestone.

"She is the first Indigenous woman in our country's history to be nominated to serve the United Nations as an advocate for the social and economic development of the world's Indigenous peoples.

"I argued for her nomination because of her respected reputation in law and her passion to shine a spotlight on the human rights of Indigenous women," Ms Macklin said.

Professor Mick Dodson from the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at ANU and himself a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, endorsed Davis's nomination describing it as "an excellent choice and one with which I totally agree".

Davis has extensive experience as an international human rights lawyer. She participated in the drafting of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and is a former Indigenous Fellow of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. She has worked in Indigenous legal advocacy and participated in UN working groups and expert seminars for over a decade. Davis is also an Australian member of the International Law Association's Indigenous Rights Committee.

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues advises the UN's Economic and Social Council. It consists of 16 members from around the world with eight chosen by member governments, and eight chosen on the nomination of Indigenous communities and organisations.

The nomination, while exciting, was also stressful, Davis said.

"It's an honour and if I get it, it'll be awesome. It's an important opportunity to raise the profile of Aboriginal women's issues within the United Nations and to keep improving the work of the UN in this area," she said.

If successful, Davis would take up the appointment for three years from 1 January 2011.

Media contact: Steve Offner | 02 9385 8107 | s.offner@unsw.edu.au