Doc Evatt, an Australian at the UN

An inspiring story
University of Sydney

A new book from Sydney University Press tells the inspiring story of Doc Evatt, the Australian who presided over the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as President of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Moving in the Open Daylight: Doc Evatt, an Australian at the United Nations by Ashley Hogan, will be launched today on the 60th anniversary of the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the major achievements of the United Nations.

Dr Herbert Vere Evatt remains a controversial figure in Australian history. An outstanding graduate of the University of Sydney, Evatt went on to hold seats in parliament at both the state and federal levels and sit on both the High Court and the Supreme Court of NSW.

Evatt opposed Menzies' 1951 referendum to outlaw the Communist Part and personally appeared before the Petrov Inquiry to defend members of his staff in courageous defence of civil liberties.

As Minister for External Affairs from 1941 to 1949, Doc Evatt played a significant role in shaping Australia's foreign policy, in the formation of the United Nations, and in the foundation of the post-World War II international order. He was elected President of the General Assembly of the United Nations on 21 September 1948.

Evatt presided over the assembly that adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948, the culmination of the work that he and his advisers had been doing since the emergence of proposals for a new world organisation during World War II.

'There were few Australians of the 20th century who stacked up more achievements of lasting benefit to the nation and to the world', says Justice Michael Kirby in the foreword. Evatt's determination to secure the rule of law, the principles of democracy, and the universality of human rights remains an inspiring legacy over half a century later in a world still facing problems of war, poverty, injustice and inequalities.

Evatt's work is not finished. In 1979, The Herbert Vere Evatt Memorial Foundation was established with the aim of advancing the highest ideals of the labour movement, such as equality, participation, social justice and human rights.

Moving in the Open Daylight: Doc Evatt, an Australian at the United Nations will be launched this evening by Senator John Faulkner at an Evatt Foundation event to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Moving in the Open Daylight: Doc Evatt, an Australian at the United Nations by Ashley Hogan is published by Sydney University Press RRP: $26.95; ISBN: 978-1920899-28-8


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