The One-Armed Orphan Who Brought Human Rights To The World
tags: human rights,John Peters Humphrey
The human wrongs many experienced during the twentieth century—individually and collectively—spawned today’s human rights movement.
Even the Thomas Jefferson of human rights, John Peters Humphrey, was a one-armed orphan bullied in private school. After working in the United Nations for twenty years, he concluded that this hope of humanity had become an “organization of shame.” His greatest achievement, drafting the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was ignored for decades as the movement’s George Washington—Rene Cassin—won the Noble Prize and its Paul Revere—Eleanor Roosevelt—became America’s liberal saint.
The origins of John Peters Humphrey’s commitment to human rights are so cinematic, even Hollywood would fear constructing such obvious psychological motives. Born in New Brunswick, Canada in 1905, Humphrey had the kind of childhood that could have produced a criminal—or a do-gooder. His father died before he turned one. Doctors amputated his left arm, after his clothing caught fire, when he was six. Then, his mother died, when he was eleven...
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