The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. The UDHR was the first international instrument recognising that fundamental rights and freedoms are inalienable and inherent to all human beings, that every one of us is born free and equal. Dr HV Evatt, Australia’s Minister for External Affairs in the Chifley Labor Government, was the President of the General Assembly and chaired the session at which the UDHR was passed. Australia had been one of the eight States given responsibility for drafting the Declaration and so it was fitting that its Minister chaired the session that adopted it.
In 2008, the United Nations is observing a 60th anniversary year that will culminate with the anniversary itself on 10 December 2008. The High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on States to undertake their own programs of activities to mark the anniversary, under the theme 'Dignity and Justice for All of Us'.
The Rudd Labor Government could adopt a package of important human rights initiatives for Australia’s observance. The following papers propose elements for that package.
- 'Strengthening Human Rights: Some Initiatives for Government at the International and Domestic Levels' prepared by the Human Rights Law Resource Centre
- '60th Anniversary of the UDHR: A Package of Initiatives for the Australian Observance' prepared by the Human Rights Council of Australia
For further information as to the 60th Anniversary of the UDHR, see http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/60UDHRIntroduction.aspx.