John P. HUMPHREY 1905-1994

1992 Social Social

For more than sixty years, Professor John Peters Humphrey, a lawyer by training and a defender of human rights, has fought relentlessly on the side of fundamental human rights throughout the world. It was no coincidence that he was asked to address the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1988, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Addresses of this kind occur once every five years, and the opportunity to deliver them is only offered to those whose contribution to the cause of human rights has been exemplary. The first such address was given by Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.

Professor Humphrey was Director of the United Nations' Human Rights Division (now called The Human Rights Centre and based in Geneva) from 1946 to 1966. In fact, this illustrious Canadian has been credited with writing the first drafts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in 1948.

Professor Humphrey studied law at the Université de Paris, and is perfectly bilingual. He is a member of the Ordre national du Québec and an Officer of the Order of Canada. He has received honorary doctorates from thirteen universities around the world. He is Vice-President, and the lone Canadian member, of the International Commission of Jurists. In 1988, he was awarded the United Nations Prize for his exceptional contributions to the cause of human rights. He has written many articles on law and international affairs throughout his career, and has authored three major works: The Inter-American System: A Canadian View, which was published in 1942, his autobiography, Human Rights and the United Nations: A Great Adventure, which was published in 1983 and translated into French in 1989 and, in the same year: No distant Millenium: The International Law of Human Rights.

Professor Humphrey's name has been associated with an impressive number of national and international associations: he was President of the Sub-Commission of the United Nations on Prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities in 1968, a member of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in 1970, and President of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation from 1978 to 1985. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Société québécoise de droit international and the Bureau des directeurs de la Ligue internationale des droits de l'homme. He was also a founding member of the Canadian division of Amnesty International.