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Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60th Anniversary - Public Forum

On Monday 24 November 2008, the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade marked the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) with a public forum held at Parliament House.

A transcript of the public forum is available at this link: Public Forum Transcript (108KB)

Guest speakers:

Emeritus Professor Ivan Shearer AM RFD

On 60 years of UDHR, Professor Shearer observed:

"60 years after its adoption by the United Nations, [the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stands] as the single most important statement regarding human rights and is one of history's most influential documents on any subject."

Professor Shearer is a renowned international human rights law scholar and practitioner. He has been a Member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee since 2001, and is a retired Professor of Law with the University of Sydney and former president of the International Law Association, Australian Branch. He has also served as a Judge with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and as a Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, and the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, Italy. Professor Shearer was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1995.

Professor Hilary Charlesworth

On Looking forward, Professor Charlesworth observed:

"...what [the Universal Declaration of Human Rights] does is to hold up in a very clear and lucid way a set of basic human commitments...We have to hold on to its optimistic aspirations and use it as something to keep reminding governments, 'This is what you have promised to live up to.'"

Professor Charlesworth is a distinguished scholar. She is Professor of International Law and Human Rights and Director of the Centre for International Governance and Justice at the Australian National University. Her research interests include international law and human rights law. She was awarded a Federation Fellowship by the Australian Research Council in 2005 and was a joint winner of the Goler T. Butcher Medal, awarded by the American Society of International Law in 2006 for "Outstanding contributions to the development of international human rights law".