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Canadian co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

John Peters Humphrey

Humphrey, John Peters (1905-1995), O.C., lawyer, diplomat, scholar and principal author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Mr. Humphrey was born in Hampton, New Brunswick. He practiced law from 1929 to 1936, when he joined the faculty of Law at McGill University in Montréal. In 1946 he was appointed as the first director of the human rights division within the United Nations Secretariat, where he was the principal drafter of the Universal Declaration. He retired from the UN in 1966 to rejoin McGill University, remaining active in the promotion of human rights in Canada and internationally until his death, at the age of 89, in March 1995.

Order of Canada Medal

Mr. Humphrey was part of the team that launched Amnesty International Canada, and, with colleagues from McGill, was instrumental in creating the Canadian Human Rights Foundation (now known as Equitas). He took part in in a number of international commissions of enquiry, including the mission to the Phillipines to investigate human rights violations under the Marcos regime. Among his many honours, Mr. Humphrey was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1974, "in recognition of his contributions to legal scholarship and his world-wide reputation in the field of human rights."