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 Declaration
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:
- ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- holding consultations about ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT)
- expressing commitment to formally support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- issuing a standing invitation to UN human rights experts to visit and report on Australia.