JOHN PETERS HUMPHREY
In 1946, Humphrey accepted a job offer from Henri Laugier, the Assistant Secretary-General on Social Affairs at the United Nations, to be the first Director of the Human Rights Division in the United Nations Secretariat. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, the former U.S. First Lady and Chairman of the Human Rights Commission in the United Nations, worked very closely with Humphrey after assuming the directorship. Humphrey"s first task on the Human Rights Commission was to prepare the draft for an International Bill of Rights. In six weeks, while staying at the Lideau Beach Hotel in New York, he wrote six drafts of the declaration. The Human Rights Commission went through 187 meetings and 1400 resolutions before agreeing on the precise wording of the 30 articles. On the night of December 10, 1948, the General Assembly unanimously adopted the Declaration. After the adoption of "the international Magna Carta of all mankind," Humphrey and his U.N. colleagues prepared two international covenants on human rights to give binding legal effect to the rights proclaimed in the Declaration. As seen in his diary entries between 1948 and 1951, Humphrey"s work on the Declaration also reflected his strong belief in the United Nations.
Humphrey"s Diaries, edited by A.J. Hobbins, were published in 1994. Humphrey"s book, Human Rights and the United Nations: A Great Adventure, published in 1984, records his twenty-year career as a human rights pioneer.
by Denis Boisvert
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