December 10th 2013 is the 65th International Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Next to the formation and the Charter of the United Nations itself, the Declaration was one of the UN’s first major achievements, and remains a powerful tool of fairness, of justice to the world.
Canada has a special connection to the development of this truly noble human achievement. The principal author of the Declaration was a native of New Brunswick, John Peters Humphrey. In 1946 he was appointed as the first director of the human rights division of the United Nations Secretariat. His pencil written draft is held in the archives of McGill University, where Humphrey returned to teaching law later in his life.
Human Rights Day provides a moment to reflect and celebrate the global entrenchment of universal human rights and the aspirations of each of us to have the freedom to believe, to live and to love as we see fit, respecting these rights for others.
On a day that world leaders have come together with South Africans and global citizens the world over to memorialize the mighty Nelson Mandela, and to reflect on how strategic patience and belief in the equality of the person can change the world, let us give thanks – and let us give a hand up to others.
President and CEO / Présidente et directrice générale
United Nations Association in Canada/ Association canadienne pour les Nations Unies
Chair of the Board / Présidente du Conseil World Federation of UNAs / Fédération mondiale des assoc. pour les NU