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section heading icon     landmarks in human rights development

This chronology covers human rights developments - in particular those concerning anti-discrimination in Australia and New Zealand. It is indicative only.

It covers -

Context is provided by the broader Timeline on this site and by more detailed chronologies on privacy, censorship, Australian discrimination law and intellectual property.

section marker    
classical (273)

273? Porphyry's De abstinentia

1215 Magna Carta

section marker     early modern (1625)

1625 Grotius' De Jure Belli ac Pacis

1631 Spee's Cautio Criminalis

1641 Grand Remonstrance in England

1689 Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration

1689 'Bill of Rights' in England

Luzac's Essay on the Freedom of Expression

1764 Beccaria's On Crimes & Punishment

1776 US Bill of Rights

1781 Bentham's An Introduction to the Principles of Morals & Legislation

1787 Bahrdt's On Freedom of the Press and Its Limits

1789 French Declaration of the Rights of Man

1840 Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand

1824 Gompertz's Moral Inquiries on the Situation of Man and Of Brutes

1840 New South Wales Continuance Act separates New Zealand from New South Wales colony

1852 New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 (UK) establishes "representative" Government

1859 Mill's On Liberty

1868 St Petersburg Declaration

1892 Salt's Animals' Rights

1893 women in New Zealand are given the vote

1896 women in South Australia gain the vote

1898 International Anti-Anarchist Conference

1899 International Convention with Respect to the Law & Customs of War by Land

1901 Commonwealth Constitution specifies that the Commonwealth would legislate for any race in Australia except Aborigines, with states retaining power over Aboriginal Affairs

1902 Commonwealth Franchise Act extends vote to women in national elections and referenda

section marker     Hague Conventions (1907)

1907 Hague Convention Respecting the Laws & Customs of War on Land

1919 International Labour Organization established

1920 Australia joins League of Nations

1927 Royal Commission on the Constitution in Australia

1927 International Convention to Suppress the Slave Trade & Slavery ratified by Australia and New Zealand

1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact against aggressive war

1933 Montevideo Convention on Rights & Duties of States

1944 rejection of Commonwealth referendum on constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and religion

1944 Raphael Lemkin coins term 'genocide'

1947 Saskatchewan Bill of Rights

section marker     UDHR (1948)

1948 UN General Assembly adopts Universal Declaration of Human Rights

1948 ILO Convention on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize

1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

1948 Commonwealth Citizenship & Nationality Act extends "Australian Citizenship" to all Australians, inc Indigenous people

1949 Commonwealth Electoral Act extends franchise to Indigenous ex-servicemen

1949 Australia ratifies Genocide Convention

1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights & Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR)

1958 New Zealand ratifies Convention on the Nationality of Married Women

1959 establishment of European Court of Human Rights

1959 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

1960 UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples

1961 European Social Charter

1961 Amnesty International established

1961 Australia ratifies Convention on the Nationality of Married Women

1962 Commonwealth Electoral Act amended to give franchise to all Indigenous people

1962 New Zealand Ombudsmen Act establishes Office of the Ombudsmen

section marker     ICCPR (1966)

1966 International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR)

1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

1966 South Australian Prohibition of Discrimination Act 1966

1967 Commonwealth referendum ends constitutional discrimination against Indigenous people, with coverage in census and shared Commonwealth-state responsibility

1970 UN Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States (Friendly Relations Declaration)

1971 New Zealand Race Relations Act establishes Office of the Race Relations Conciliator

1971 Griggs v Duke Power Co 401 US 424 (1971)

section marker     Whitlam era (1972)

1972 Australia signs International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR)

1972 New Zealand ratifies International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

1973 UN International Convention on Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid

1973 International Labour Organisation Convention (ILO) No. 111 Discrimination (Employment & Occupation)

1973 Human Rights Bill introduced in Senate but lapses with 1974 Double Dissolution

1975 Commonwealth Family Law Act 1975

1975 Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act 1975

1975 Australia ratifies International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

1975 Waitangi Tribunal established

1977 NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW)

1977 New Zealand Human Rights Commission Act

1978 American Convention on Human Rights

1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

1981 Commonwealth Human Rights Commission established by Human Rights Commission Act 1981 (Cth)

1981 OAU adopts Banjul Charter on Human & Peoples' Rights

1982 New Zealand Official Information Act

1982 Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982

1983 Australia ratifies International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

section marker     CAT and EEO (1984)

1984 UN Convention against Torture & Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)

1984 Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)

1984 Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 1984

1984 Western Australian Equal Opportunity Act 1984

1984 SA Equal Opportunity Act 1984

1985 Inter-American Convention to Prevent & Punish Torture

1986 Australian Human Rights Bill passed by federal House of Representatives but abandoned after Senate opposition

1986 New Zealand Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986

1986 Commonwealth Affirmative Action (Equal Opportunity for Women) Act 1986

1986 Commonwealth Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986

1987 Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Act 1987

1987 European Convention for the Prevention of Torture & Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment (CPT)

section marker     Privacy and CROC (1988)

1988 Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988

1989 NSW Anti-Discrimination (Racial Vilification) Amendment Act 1989

1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC)

1989 Australia ratifies CAT
1990 Australia ratifies Convention on the Rights of the Child

1990 Australia accedes to Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR re abolition of death penalty

1990 Bill of Rights Act 1990 in New Zealand

1991 first complaint under ICCPR by Nick Toonen alleging Tasmanian Criminal Code violates right to privacy

1991 United Nations Draft Declaration of the Rights of the World's Indigenous Peoples

1991 Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act 1991

1991 ACT Discrimination Act 1991

1992 Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992

1992 Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Act 1992

1992 New Zealand Privacy Act establishes Office of the Privacy Commissioner

1992 Tasmanian Disability Services Act 1992

1992 Australian High Court in Mabo Case rejects doctrine of terra nullius

1993 NSW Disability Services Act 1993

1993 New Zealand Human Rights Act 1993

1993 UN Human Rights Committee agrees with Toonen

1993 NSW Anti-Discrimination (Homosexual Vilification) Amendment Act 1993

1993 UN creates International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

1993 first UN High Commissioner for Human Rights appointed

1993 Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993

1994 Commonwealth Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act 1994

1994 NT Anti-Discrimination Act 1994

1994 Tasmanian Sex Discrimination Act 1994

1994 New Zealand Health & Disability Commissioner Act

1994 UN creates International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

1995 Commonwealth Racial Hatred Act 1995 amends Racial Discrimination Act to cover racial vilification

1995 CIS Convention on Human Rights & Fundamental Freedoms

1995 Teoh Case in High Court of Australia

1995 Kadic v Karadzic case in US

1996 NSW Transgender (Anti-Discrimination & Other Acts Amendment) Act 1996

1997 Senate Legal & Constitutional Committee Inquiry into Sexuality Discrimination

1997 Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights & Biomedicine

1997 Croome v Tasmania decision by High Court

1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

1998 Augusto Pinochet arrested in London for extradition to Spain over crimes against humanity as head of state in Chile

1999 Slobodan Milosevic indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

section marker     SOCOG and HRAA (2000)

2000 SOCOG fined after ignoring adverse ruling by Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission in Maguire v SOCOG

2001 Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 in New Zealand extends coverage of Human Rights legislation

2003 Purvis v New South Wales decision in High Court

2004 Kelly-Country v Beers vilification case in Federal Magistrates Court

2004 federal Age Discrimination Act 2004

2004 ACT Human Rights Act 2004

2006 UK Gender Recognition Act

section marker     HRC (2006)

2006 UN Human Rights Council replaces Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights

2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


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version of April 2007
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