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As Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 75, disability rights are vital

Dec 8, 2023 | Media Releases

The 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on Sunday 10th December comes as human rights are under attack across the globe. From the impacts of climate change to the sharp rise in violent conflict, 2023 has been a year of enormous upheaval. 

The UDHR was a landmark document, enshrining for the first time the fundamental rights to which every person across the world is entitled. The UDHR has inspired more than 60 international human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights. These instruments include protections against discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, language, religion and political opinion, as well as special instruments for ensuring children’s rights and the rights of women against all forms of discrimination. 

For the international development sector, a commitment to human rights underpins all that we do. With a focus on bettering lives for all, particularly those at the margins, our sector knows that failing to do so would exacerbate social problems such as inequality, poverty and discrimination. 

Members of ACFID, Australia’s peak body for international development, champion a rights-based approach to aid, development and humanitarian assistance. Through their programs and advocacy, they have been successful defenders of human rights in our region and worldwide. 

The Australian Government has a responsibility to expand its international development and humanitarian assistance programs to enable greater human rights impact in critical areas such as LGBTQIA+ rights, Indigenous rights, disability inclusion, and addressing the serious threats that climate change and conflict pose to human rights.  

Spotlight on disability rights: 

People with disabilities form the group left farthest behind in progress so far towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. More than 80 percent of people with disabilities live in developing countries. People with disabilities are amongst the poorest and most marginalised in society.  

Australia was previously a world leader in disability-inclusive development; however, this has been eroded in recent years due primarily to stagnant funding and the lack of a renewed policy direction. 

Australia is currently developing a new International Disability Equity and Rights Strategy. ACFID and the Australian Disability and Development Consortium (ADDC) are leading a joint call for it to be ambitious, accountable and well-resourced. 

For more information on disability rights or to arrange an interview, please contact Kerryn Clarke at the Australian Disability and Development Consortium on [email protected] 

ACFID and its members voted in favour of continuing to work to elevate disability rights in a resolution at the 2023 AGM. (Read it here.) 

Background information on the UDHR: 

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” 

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10th, 1948 (Resolution 217A). 

In the wake of World War Two, it set out how fundamental human rights need to be protected, for the first time. It consists of 30 articles detailing an individual’s basic rights and fundamental freedoms. It is considered to be the key text setting out human rights informing further texts and actions over the past 75 years.  

Since then, it has paved the way for more than 70 human rights treaties, at regional or global levels. It directly inspired the development of international human rights law.  

Read it here 

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact [email protected] or call 0401721064. 

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