The University of Newcastle,

19 December 23002

University > Human Rights/Social Justice Lecture

Transcript - Annual Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture

The Honourable Justice Marcus Einfeld AO QC

Former Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, Justice of the New South Wales, Western Australian and Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court and Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court

Office in the Order of Australia

AUSTCARE's Ambassador for Refugees

UNICEF's Ambassador for Children

National Vice President, International Commission of Jurists (Australian Section)

Foundation President, Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and Australian Paralympic Federation

Richardson Theatre, University of Newcastle, Callaghan


Thursday 19 September 2002


I commence by warmly congratulating the University of Newcastle on instituting an annual Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture. I hope your brave initiative will be followed by other universities and that you will use your influence to persuade them to do so. I thank you for giving me the honour of delivering this year's 2nd lecture on the asylum seeker problems which our country has so shamefully brought on itself in these last few years. I introduce my subject by setting the context in which this major departure from a proud human rights heritage has occurred.

54 years ago this coming December, a war ravaged and war-weary world ushered in a new international order with what was called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was a bold and brilliant document full of words, phrases and concepts that everyone wanted to hear. It spoke of recognising the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. It observed that disregard and contempt for human rights had resulted in barbarous acts which had outraged the conscience of mankind. It called for the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief, and freedom from fear and want, as the highest aspiration of the common people. It declared as essential that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.

As a consequence, a common standard of achievement was declared for all people and all nations. Every individual and every organ of every society was required to strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms, and to work to secure their universal recognition and effective observance.