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Australia and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights

Australia and the

Universal Declaration on Human Rights


The Universal Declaration on Human Rights (the Universal

Declaration) was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1948. Click

here for more information about the Universal


What role did Australia play?

Australia was a founding member of the UN and played a

prominent role in the negotiation of the UN Charter in 1945. Australia was also

one of eight nations involved in drafting the Universal Declaration.

This was largely due to the influential leadership of Dr

Herbert Vere Evatt, the head of Australia’s delegation to the UN. In 1948,

Dr HV Evatt became President of the UN General Assembly. That same year he

oversaw the adoption of the Universal Declaration.

Who was Dr HV Evatt?

Dr HV Evatt was a prominent figure in Australia politics

during the middle of the 20th century. Prior to coming to the UN, he

had been a judge of the High Court, Attorney-General and Minister for External

Affairs. Dr HV Evatt was renowned for being a champion of civil liberties and

the rights of economically and socially disadvantaged people.

What is Australia’s current role in

international human rights?

Australia has remained a supporter of human rights

throughout international treaty negotiations. Australia has ratified almost all

of the major international human rights instruments.

Most recently, in 2008, the federal government took a

number of steps towards improving Australia’s protection of human rights,

including by:

UN Logo - 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights