UNAAV Events

UNAA celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Check out how the United Nations Association of Australia commemorated the UDHR with events from across Australia and the globe through informing, inspiring and engaging.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
The iconic opening sentence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is as important today as it was when it was adopted 75 years ago. The Universal Declaration is a roadmap, helping to end wars, heal divisions and promote lives of peace and dignity for all.
On Human Rights Day, I urge people around the world to promote and respect human rights, every day, for everyone, everywhere.  

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General United Nations
Welcome to this special edition of UNity dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

UNAA is a forum for us to design and advocate for a safer, fairer and sustainable future so that our members are empowered to make positive changes through a principle-based and well argued framework founded on UN Declarations and the 2030 Sustainable Development themes, goals and targets.  I wish to recognise the UNity editors over the past four decades – Cecily Storey, David Purnell, Ian Matthews, Judy Cannon and Candice Woods and more recently Melissa King. We believe UNity started in 1946 with five volunteer contributors from across Australia. 

Safer Future relies on the UN Charter, while our Fairer Future is anchored by the Human Rights Declaration and it subsequent instruments. Our Sustainable Future is guided by the Earth Charter for our stewardship of the natural resources on which all health life depends. Over time these mandates have progressed, and in 2022 the rights of future generations to a clean environment and safer future (climate) integrate all these foundations. 

We have chosen this time to release a statement on the situation in the Middle East focused on the human impact there and at home. The impacts of armed conflict on people in Israel and Gaza are abhorrent, traumatic and intolerable. Particularly to the great extent that they impact children, women and innocent civilians. We extend our empathy to our fellow humans caught in this crisis. We also extend our empathy to the families of journalists and UN staff who have been injured, killed, or fallen out of communication in unprecedented numbers in this crisis. We call out the essential importance of respect for human rights and the cessation of violence. We support the work of all parties working towards continued ceasefires, and provide some recommended sites for information as the situation is complex, fluid and continuing. 

We recognize UNW 16 Days of Respect to Eliminate Violence against Women and Girls by wearing orange between 25 November and 10 December and advancing legislation on coercive control and consent. This year’s theme is TFVAW – technology facilitated violence. Australia is a leader in the appointment of E-safety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant 

This month, we are pleased to share online and in person invitations to participate in HR75 events in Australia and internationally at and through the UN.  There are also toolkits, videos and other resources embedded for your networks to share. 

At this major milestone we profile some of our members across Australia who are dedicated to Human Rights education and advocacy.   

Also happening now, is UNFCCC COP28 on climate action with live streaming, innovation hub and declarations as they are agreed. Australia has the capacity and opportunity to be a good global citizen and a valuable Pacific family member through our leadership at this meeting. 

We look forward to your contributions to UNity in 2024, as we advance our joint efforts locally, regionally and internationally, to design a future that provides a proud legacy for our younger generations.
Dr Donnell Davis, President UNAA

UNAA Board
At our AGM in late November Dr Donnell Davis joined us as President, Aaron Tran joined as Treasurer, Susan McHattie accepted a new term as Secretary. In December we will welcome the new President of UN Youth, Caleb Henley. The members formally recognised the valued leadership of outgoing Acting President Dr Patricia Jenkings for her careful stewardship of the organisation during 2023. Members also thanked Michael Donaghue Evans, former President of UN Youth for his thoughtful contributions to our governance. UNAA acknowledges the continuing national board members:
Dr Sandy Chong (WA Representative & Immediate Past President of UNAA WA)
Brian Gleeson (ACT President)
Lidia Moretti (SA President)
Claire Moore (QLD President)
Kate Heelan (NT President)
Andrew Hewett (VIC Representative)
Michael Jefferies (NSW Representative)
Joel Lindsay (Young Professionals President)
HR75 around Australia
1 to 10 December
INFORMED Queensland Human Rights Commission is offering a range of in person and online training about Human Rights – 
7 December
INSPIRED ‘The Fitzgeralds’ the NT Human Rights Awards named in honour of Tony Fitzgerald, the NT Anti-Discrimination Commissioner from 2002 until his death in February 2009, will be announced at a free ceremony at the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in Darwin. 
8 December
INSPIRED The Australian Human Rights Awards are an inspirational showcase of the best in all of us. 21 finalists were selected from over 260 nominations across five categories, the prestigious Australian Human Rights Medal, and the Law Award, Media and Creative Industries Award, Community Award and Young People’s Award. Find out more about the inspiring finalists here
The event will feature the 2023 Human Rights Day Oration by Commonwealth Attorney-General the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP. The Attorney-General will focus on the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the significance of the Declaration in Australia and internationally as the Australian Government updates our human rights framework. Purchase tickets to join the Human Rights Commission in person in Sydney or join for free online on Friday 8 December. 

11 December 
ENGAGED Governor of Queensland, Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young AC PSM and Professor Renée Jeffery, Professor of International Relations at Griffith University, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia will address the UNAA Queensland HR75 celebration at St Johns Cathedral Brisbane and online, this is a free, family friendly event. 
HR75 at the UN and around the world
INSPIRED explore OHCHR’s HR75 countdown and discover the stories of those who fought for human rights throughout history until today.
ENGAGED The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published a Toolkit and Countdown for celebratory events and actions to help us get informed and get inspired and promote the Universal Declaration and human rights and encourage people, organisations, businesses and member states to pledge to concrete human rights action that will be transformative in scope..

10 December
INSPIRED Unveiling of bust of American political figure, diplomat and activist Eleanor Roosevelt (Geneva)  
INSPIRED Human Rights 75 Concert (Geneva) featuring world-class talent from every continent, covering different musical genres and human rights themes, as well as a historic dance performance. View the programme, which includes UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo performing live. Watch the show live on 10 December. Details in Français and Español
INSPIRED Concert organized by ONUART Foundation, in partnership with UN Geneva (Geneva)  
11 & 12 December
ENGAGED & INFORMED Start of a two-day hybrid high-level event in Geneva, with regional hubs connected in Panama, Nairobi and Bangkok. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk will make opening remarks. The event is accessible to all with international sign interpretation and real-time captioning in English provided. A Human Rights 75 Virtual Conference Centre is being built to welcome 3000 online participants. Register to watch the debates online via the Human Rights 75 Virtual Conference Centre. 
12 December
ENGAGED Members of the Third Committee of the General Assembly in New York will recommit to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by signing copies of the Declaration. This effort is led by Ambassador Alexander Marschik, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations, in his role as Chair of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).
15 December
INSPIRED Award ceremony in the UN General Assembly Hall for the winners of the 2023 United Nations Human Rights Prize (New York). OHCHR will feature each of the five winners next week in its Countdown HR75.
16 December
INSPIRED Concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. Features world premiere of Everyone, Everywhere by composer Daron Hagan, which weaves passages from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the words of human rights luminaries Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt, and others. Hagen’s cantata is paired with Ralph Vaughan-Williams’s impassioned Dona Nobis Pacem in an evening of music that brings the world we seek into view. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk will offer a spoken introduction. Watch music director Mark Shapiro’s interview with Volker Türk on Everyone, Everywhere.
Make your voice heard and participate in the two-day hybrid high-level event in Geneva on 11 & 12 December, see link above.
Spread the word by adding your photo on social media.
Participate in OHCHR’s Human Rights 75 Film Tour.
Express your preference for the human rights statement that most clearly reflects your priority for the future.
Help us push leaders to take action and mobilize a global movement by joining our social media campaign and #Act4RightsNow #HumanRights75.

Lyma Nguyen is an active member of UNAA NT and a legal and human rights advisor on the NT Committee. She practices as a barrister both internationally and domestically, primarily in the area of criminal law and human rights. 
In both 2021 and 2022, she was named amongst the Northern Territory’s 100 Most Powerful Women.  In 2020, she took the top place as overall winner of the 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australian Leadership Awards for her extensive work supporting refugees and asylum seekers and survivors of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime.

Sr Wendy Flannery is the inaugural winner of the 2017 SDG Peoples Awards – classified in 5Ps – People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnerships – organised by UNAAQ. In her acceptance speech, she challenged UNAAQ with recommendations for the future, which are being addressed progressivley. 

Born in Brisbane, her experience included helping to establish an NGO connection at the UN in New York for the Sisters of Mercy International and engagement in several UN programs, teaching in Papua New Guinea, and decades of work in international development in the Pacific.

Her involvement continues through the Pacific Islands Council of Queensland, and her role as national Vice-President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.  For the past 6 years, Wendy has written a monthly UNAAQ Human Rights Report that provides timely accurate information to guide our debates and action locally. She is a tireless inspirer and mentor to many. 

Sheila Byard OAM is a tireless local and international campaigner for gender equality. She is a long-term, active member of the United Nations Association of Australia – Victorian Division. As Convenor of the UNAA Status of Women Network (SOWN), she has been a mentor and supervisor for many tertiary students on placement with UNAA. In recent years, Sheila has focused on advocacy relating to the implementation of UN conventions and protocols in Australia, particularly the Convention of the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, and matters such as trafficking and forced marriage. In recognition of her significant contributions, Sheila was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to women in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.