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Historical documents

176 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram 183, CANBERRA, 13 April 1948, 4.30 p.m.


Please pass following general comments on draft Declaration and draft Covenant to Secretariat :

1. Declaration
The Australian Government considers that the draft Declaration in the form proposed by the Second Session of the Commission is not satisfactory and contains many provisions [which would be more appropriately inserted in the Covenant.][1] Declaration should be an instrument of popular appeal and persuasion and the present text should be replaced by a more concise statement of general principles. The Australian Government reserves the right to make detailed comments both at the meeting of the drafting committee and the following session of the Commission on the present text and on any other proposal there put forward.

The government also considers that the Declaration should be incorporated as a preamble to the Covenant. It should also be promulgated as a separate instrument.

2. Covenant
The Australian Government considers that the Covenant should be more comprehensive, and include more provisions for the implementation of the general principles of the Declaration. In particular, the Covenant does not at present give definitive effect to the principles contained in the draft Declaration in its present form in Articles 1, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 32, and additional articles of the Covenant should be included accordingly. The Australian Government reserves the right to propose appropriate additional articles and also to make comments on matters of detail in the Covenant as a whole.

3. Methods of Implementation
It is considered that all matters relevant to the implementation of the Covenant should be discussed at the meetings of the drafting committee and session of the Commission in May 1948, including in particular the Australian proposal for the establishment of a Court of Human Rights and a comprehensive plan of implementation, including a draft statute for the Court of Human Rights, should be drawn up by drafting Committee for approval by the Commission and submission to the General Assembly. The implementation and methods of enforcement are essential component elements of the Covenant and machinery for implementation should be agreed upon at the same time as the Covenant is drafted.

[1] Words in square brackets inserted from Economic and Social Council memorandum E/CN.4/82, dated 16 April 1948, conveying the comments of member countries.

[AA : A1838, 856/13, II]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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