Robert McClelland on human rights

The Evatt Foundation proudly presents the Evatt Annual Lecture

Getting into gear for the next 60 years

The Hon. Robert McClelland MP


'All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.' Article 1, UDHR

Sixty years ago, on 10 December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations. The President of the General Assembly at the time of the adoption and proclamation was Dr Herbert Vere Evatt, the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs in the Australian Government under Prime Minister Ben Chifley and the Labor Member of the House of Representatives for the seat of Barton.

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration and the election of 'the Doc' as the only Australian to have presided over the General Assembly, the Evatt Foundation and the University of Sydney take pleasure in inviting you to this address by the current Attorney General amd Member for Barton in the Rudd Labor Government, the Hon. Robert McClelland MP.

About the Universal Declaration

"It was the first occasion on which the organised community of nations had made a declaration of human rights and fundamental freedoms. That document was backed by the authority of the body of opinion of the United Nations as a whole and millions of people, men, women, and children all over the world, would turn to it for help, guidance and inspiration.
          - Doc Evatt, General Assembly, Official Records, 3rd Sess, 1st part, 181st Plenary Mtg, 10 December 1948.

"The Magna Carta of all mankind."
           - Eleanor Roosevelt , speaking in the General Assembly, 10 December 1948.

"Arguably most important document ever reduced to writing, whether on paper, papyrus, velum or tablets of stone."
          - Hon. Mary Gaudron QC, former Justice of the High Court, Jessie Street Trust, Parliament House, Sydney, 3 March 2006.

"It was the first occasion on which the organised community of nations had made a declaration of human rights and fundamental freedoms."

About the Doc

"... a modest, late-model Ford ... a heavy, tousle-headed man in a baggy lounge suit, his tie off-centre, sat next to the chauffeur. Muttering a nasal 'see you later' to the driver, the passenger let himself out and shambled up to the official entrance - only to be barred by a gendarme whose instructions were to admit dignitaries only. Later the policeman was flabbergasted to learn that he had delayed the President of the General Assembly himself, Dr Evatt."
          - L. Kramer & others (eds), The Greats (A&R, Sydney, 1986)

"The responsibilities and influence of Australia have been greatly increased in Paris by the election of Dr Evatt to the Presidency of the General Assembly. This is the highest position in international affairs ever attained by an Australian, and is a recognition both to himself and the policies which Australia has followed and advocated. As President, Dr Evatt has regarded himself as the representative of all the 58 nations comprising the Assembly and as the upholder and asserter of the Assembly's rights and duties."
          - The Work of the Australian Delegation to the Third Session of the General Assembly

About Robert McClelland

Robert McClelland is the Commonwealth Attorney-General and the Member for Barton, an electorate based in the St George area of Sydney. Robert has a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of NSW and a Master of Law from the University of Sydney. Before entering Federal Parliament he was a partner in the Sydney law firm Turner Freeman where he specialised in labour and sporting law. He was first elected as the Federal Member for Barton in March 1996. He has served on several parliamentary committees, including as Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties and the Joint Select Committee on the Republic Referendum. In October 1998 he was appointed Shadow Attorney-General and later served in a range of shadow portfolios including Workplace Relations, Justice, Homeland Security, Defence and Foreign Affairs. Following the election of the Kevin Rudd Labor Government in November 2007, Robert was appointed Australia's 33rd Attorney-General.