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Humphrey and the old revolution: human rights in the age of mistrust

McGill University
Publication Date
  • Economics
  • Law
  • Political Science


John P. Humphrey wrote the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was one of the key United Nations Secretariat figures in the post-war human rights programme. Humphrey was a socialist and the Universal Declaration contained social and economic rights from its very beginnings. The inclusion of these rights made the Universal Declaration an object of attack from the American right as an instrument to introduce state socialism. Humphrey by and large escaped any public attack as an individual, but a few of his friends and a number of his acquaintances were alleged to be Soviet agents. This article investigates Humphrey's associations from the 1930s to the 1950s, based in part on his diaries and other unpublished materials, in order to analyze how those associations might have affected the U. N. Human Rights programme.

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