The Government of Canada recognizes John P. Humphrey as a Person of National Historic Significance


Humphrey has made important contributions to the advancement of international law and human rights

GATINEAUKC, November 17, 2022 /CNW/ – National Historic Designations reflect our country’s rich and varied heritage and provide Canadians with an opportunity to learn about our diverse history.

Today the Honorable Steven Guilbeault, Minister for the Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced the designation of John P. Humphrey as a Person of National Historic Significance under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration.

John P. Humphrey (1905–1995) was a Canadian lawyer and university professor who was instrumental in advancing human rights law. Humphrey was born in Hampton, New Brunswickand went on to study and then teach McGill University In Montréal. There he developed innovative courses in administrative, public and international law, becoming an outspoken advocate for peace and legal internationalism.

In 1946, Humphrey became the first director of the Human Rights Department within the United Nations (UN) Secretariat. With the help of his staff, he prepared the 48-article “Secretariat Outline” and supporting documents for the UN Human Rights Commission, which laid the foundations for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948gradually became part of common law, inspired many international human rights conventions and declarations, and formed the basis for later Canadian efforts to recognize and protect human rights.

After 20 years at the UN, Humphrey returned to Montreal, where he again taught international law and organization at McGillserved on numerous international and national bodies and continued to champion human rights by helping to found prominent organizations such as Amnesty International Canada and Equitas – International Center for Human Rights Education (formerly the Canadian Human Rights Foundation).

The government of Canadathrough the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes key individuals, places and events that shaped our country as a way to help Canadians connect with their past. By sharing these stories with Canadians, we hope to promote understanding and reflection on the diverse histories, cultures, legacies and realities of from Canada past and present.

The designation process under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations. More than 2,200 appointments have been made nationwide to date. To nominate a person, place or historical event in your community, visit the Parks Canada website for more information:


Canadians have been strong voices for the protection of human rights, but few individuals have contributed as much to moving the effort forward as John P. Humphrey. His work has contributed to the adoption of human rights initiatives around the world. John P. Humphrey holds a remarkable place in the history of Canada and befits recognition as a Person of National Historic Significance.”

The Dear Steven Guilbeault
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“As a Canadian lawyer, scientist and human rights activist, John P. Humphrey was instrumental in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1947, which has served as the basis for the creation of Canadian federal, provincial and territorial laws to protect human rights. We are proud of Mr. Honor Humphrey as a Person of National Historic Significance for his prominent role in promoting human rights worldwide, and for being an integral part of from Canada constructive engagement with the world.”

Dear Melanie Jolien
Minister of Foreign Affairs

John Humphrey strongly believed in the importance of human rights for all and the power to educate people about their rights. His commitment and vision have been fundamental to Equitas’ work and continue to guide us today as we support human rights defenders around the world and work with them to advance social justice for all. We are delighted that his contribution to Canadian history is being recognized and will remind us that defending human rights is the responsibility of all of us.”

Odette McCarthy
Executive Director, Equitas

Quick Facts

  • John P. Humphrey received many awards, including the Order of Canadathe Ordre national du Québec and the United Nations Human Rights Prize.
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is considered a milestone in human rights history. According to the United Nations, it has been translated into more than 500 languages ​​and is widely recognized as the inspiration for the adoption of more than 70 human rights treaties, which are today permanently applied at the global and regional levels (all of which contain references to the Declaration in their preambles). Today the international community commemorates its adoption December 10 with the annual celebration of Human Rights Day.
  • Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on the national significance of persons, places and events that have marked from Canada history. The board works with Parks Canada to ensure that subjects of national historic importance are recognized under Parks Canada’s National Historic Remembrance Program and that these important stories are shared with Canadians.
  • Parks Canada is committed to partnering with Canadians in our efforts to tell broader, more inclusive stories in the places it manages. In support of this goal, the Framework for History and Commemoration outlines a new, comprehensive and engaging approach to sharing from Canada history through different perspectives, including highlighting tragic and difficult periods of from Canada Past.

Related document

Related Links

Parks Canada Agency
Council of Historic Places and Monuments Canada
Framework for History and Commemoration

SOURCE Parks Canada

For more information: Kaitlin Power, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, 819-230-1557, [email protected]; Media Relations, Parks Canada Agency, 855-862-1812, [email protected]

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