The Virtue of Tolerance

Canada's reputation for tolerance owes much to one Canadian whose human rights legacy lives on today.

Text by Canada’s History

Posted March 6, 2016

John Humphrey is not a household name to most Canadians, but it should be.

Black and white photograph

The Montreal legal scholar was the principal author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration was described as the international “Magna Carta of all mankind” when it was adopted by the United Nations in 1948.

Even though it is not legally binding, the declaration has been adopted in or has influenced most national constitutions since 1948. It has also served as the foundation for a growing number of national and international laws and treaties.

Humphrey was associated with McGill University in Montreal. In this video, Payam Akhavan, an associate law professor at McGill University, argues why Humphrey should be considered one of the university’s greatest alumni.

More about Canada’s history of advancing human rights can be found in the article “Slow Road to Tolerance” by Allan Levine in the April-May 2016 issue of Canada’s History magazine. 

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