187 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs
Cablegram Austdel 361, PARIS, 11 December 1948, 2.45 p.m.
1. On 10th December Assembly in Plenary Session adopted Declaration of Human Rights by 48 affirmative votes and [no] negative votes and 8 abstentions. Countries abstaining were Eastern Europe, South Africa and Saudi Arabia. Plenary Session deleted so-called 'colonial' article and adopted instead as paragraph 2 of Article 2 a United Kingdom amendment in the following terms. 'Furthermore no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty'. Assembly also adopted 4 resolutions.
(a) Asking Human Rights Commission to examine question of right of petition.
(b) Asking Human Rights Commission and Sub-Commission on Minorities to make thorough study of problem of minorities.
(c) Recommending governments, specialised agencies and non-governmental organisations to do everything possible to publicise text of Declaration and (d) Requesting E.C.O.S.O.C. to ask Human Rights Commission to give priority in its work to preparation of draft Covenant on Human Rights and measures of implementation.
2. In speech during debate in Plenary Session Australia emphasised importance of this first international Declaration of Human Rights on governmental plans and also stressed need to proceed urgently with work on covenant and measures of implementation. We referred particularly to Australian proposal for International Court of Human Rights.