Today, on Human Rights Day, we are marking 70 years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This important document, recognising human rights as universal, indivisible and inalienable, lies at the heart of the international human rights system.
Australia had an instrumental role in developing the Declaration. We are particularly proud of the contribution of Australia’s then Minister for External Affairs, Dr Herbert Vere ‘Doc’ Evatt who saw human rights as important in re-defining the relationship between nations, communities and individuals. We are equally proud of the contribution of Lady Jessie Street, one of Australia’s leading feminists, and a member of Australia’s delegation to the UN when the Declaration was adopted.
Since the Declaration’s inception, Australia has prioritised strengthening our respect for fundamental human rights and building them into the fabric of Australian society. We develop and administer domestic laws to enshrine our international human rights obligations. This year was also our first as a member of the Human Rights Council, another important milestone in Australia’s long history of international engagement with human rights issues.
In celebration of this anniversary, the Australian Government has proudly supported a number of key events including the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Awards, the 9th International Conference on Human Rights Education held in Sydney and United Nations Day celebrations.
Australia’s commitment to human rights goes to the core of who we are and our respect for human dignity in all aspects of life – it is about basic morality, justice and integrity. Australia will continue to actively support the Declaration’s core aims, purposes and principles.