Herbert Vere Evatt

Herbert Vere Evatt (1894-1965) was prominent in 1945-49 in the formation and operation of the United Nations after World War II. He was a High Court judge (1930-40), federal Labor politician (1940-60), attorney-general and minister for external affairs (1941-49), and leader of the Opposition (1951-60). His tenacious concern for justice complemented his principled approach to national-security issues and international relations. Courtesy Australian Dictionary of Biography


24 October 1945

Australia joins the United Nations

Australia sends a delegation (including feminist activist Jessie Street) led by HV ‘Doc’ Evatt to the San Francisco conference, which opens on 25 April, to establish the United Nations. Australia is one of the 51 founding members, and plays a key role in the conception of its UN Charter, which is signed on 26 June 1945. Evatt is subsequently appointed to chair the General Assembly in 1948 at which the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is adopted. The United Nations aims to promote and encourage ‘respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion’, and becomes a powerful force in the pursuit of international peace and security.


Dr HV Evatt signs the United Nations Charter, 1948.
10 December 1948

Australia signs UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

At its third session, the UN General Assembly adopts the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its President, Australia’s Foreign Minister and Attorney-General, HV ‘Doc’ Evatt, predicts that ‘millions of people, men, women and children all over the world would turn to it for help, guidance and inspiration’. Australia, together with the United Kingdom, subsequently leads the way in advocating the adoption of the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and Civil and Political Rights in 1966 (in force from 1976).


Dr HV Evatt signs the UN Charter, 1948.