Canada Leads the Cause
The human rights atrocities associated with the Second World War motivated world leaders to acknowledge the need for establishing an internationally recognized document safeguarding universal civil liberties. John Peters Humphrey, a Canadian law professor, was one of two authors who wrote the preliminary draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration was officially adopted on 10 December 1948 by the United Nations. The UN asserted that the international community as a whole was responsible for the protection of individual human rights and the assurance of non-discrimination. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights continues to be used today by the United Nations and is "protected by the rule of law." (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Preamble)
"All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms. ...the United Nations Charter... reaffirms the faith of the peoples of the world in fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person.”
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations Department of Public Information, 2008)
Canada's prominent role as a principal author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reflection of events in the nation at that time. One year before the Declaration, the province of Saskatchewan passed the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights, which protected people of the province from infringements on human rights. In 1946, Diefenbaker had called for a bill of rights in the Canadian Parliament. Diefenbaker had been earnestly campaigning for the protection of individual rights and freedoms since becoming a Member of Parliament in 1945. His proposed amendment to the Canadian Citizenship Act appealed for the incorporation of basic rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to peaceable assembly, and the right to legal counsel when giving evidence.