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Australia signs international covenants on human rights

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M/10 20 December 1972


■ The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr E.G. Whitlam, announced today

that Australia*s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Sir

Laurence McIntyre signed on Monday 18 December in New York, two International

Covenants on Human Rights. The Covenants are the International Covenant

on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant

on Civil and Political Rights. .

Mr Whitlam said the signature was intended to affirm the Government's

unequivocal agreement with the aims of the Covenants. In accordance with

the Charter of the United Nations these are directed towards promoting ·

and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedom for all, ■

v/ithout distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.

Mr Whitlam said signature of the Covenants does not impose any

immediately legally binding obligations on Australia. However, signature

does imply that Australia will put itself in a position to ratify them as

soon as practicable. The Government has directed that work should proceed

at once with a view to seeing what steps may be necessary to enable

Australia to ratify.

Mr Whitlam said he hoped Australia would be in a position to ratify

the Covenants by the time we observe the 25th Anniversary of the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1973·· ·