The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a landmark document for the recognition and protection of human rights. On 10th December, 2018, it will be 70 years since the UDHR first came into effect under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly.
The UDHR provides for 30 rights relating to economic, cultural and social rights; and civil and political rights. It further stipulates that these rights are universal and inalienable, and recognises that ‘the inherent dignity of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world’.
Though the UDHR is a nonbinding document, since its inception it has been instrumental in the development of international human rights law, regional and national human rights instruments, and national constitutions. Human rights recognised within the UDHR also underpin and shape policies and practices of those working to advocate for, and defend human rights. This is highly pertinent to the settlement sector in Australia, who work consistently to uphold the human rights and dignity of all newly arrived migrants and refugees in their support at all stages of the settlement process. In light of the UDHR’s 70th anniversary, it is therefore important to recognise the vital importance of human rights that have directly and indirectly influenced the work of SCoA and its members.
Since the inception of the UDHR, a continuously evolving human rights discourse both at home and internationally has seen the emergence of a dialogue regarding the potential for Australia to consider developing and implementing national charter or bill of rights.
SCoA welcomes greater exploration and discussion of this idea and considers it could provide a clear benchmark for human rights in Australia, rather than an extra burden of compliance.
The development of a national charter or bill of rights would no doubt have impact on the many new Australians undertaking their settlement journeys, by ensuring human rights remain central to policy settings and service delivery across the sector, and supporting the existing delivery of world-leading settlement services.
SCoA marks the 70th Anniversary of the UDHR with an immense gratitude for those who paved the way for the recognition and protection of human rights globally, and a sense of optimism for the future of human rights, both in Australia and internationally, as the central foundation of peace, justice, safety and freedom.