Human Rights Day: an occasion to pay tribute to the world’s defenders of rights and freedoms

(Montreal, 9 December 2011) On December 10th 1948, the United Nations General Assembly’s adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose principal drafter was Canadian law professor John Peters Humphrey.


Since 1950, the world has celebrated this historic advance for humanity on December 10, which was officially declared Human Rights Day.


“On this day we pay tribute to those who risk their safety, that of their families, and even their lives, working to ensure that the fundamental rights we are lucky enough to enjoy in Canada become truly universal,” said Gérard Latulippe, President of Rights & Democracy.


Rights & Democracy wishes to salute all those who continue to work tirelessly to promote, preserve, and defend human rights around the world, as it also does annually with the presentation of the John Humphrey Award to an organization or individual for exceptional commitment to the promotion of human rights and democratic development.


Last November, Ales Michalevic, a candidate in the 2010 Belarusian presidential election who was subsequently arrested, wrongfully imprisoned and tortured by the authoritarian regime of Belarus, joined the eminent list of John Humphrey Award laureates.


“The defense of human rights is, of course, central to our work at Rights & Democracy, as are the promotion of human rights, freedom, democracy, and the rule of law,” added Mr. Latulippe. “Through the John Humphrey Award, we hope to draw attention to the crucial contributions people such as Mr. Michalevic are making, and encourage them to persevere.”


2011 marks the 20th presentation of the John Humphrey Award and in recognition of Human Rights Day 2011, Rights & Democracy thus invites you to watch a short video chronicling the history of the award and its laureates: