Dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1998
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Thomas Jefferson. Much earlier.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, resolution adopted unanimously in December 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The objective of the 30-article declaration is to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. 


     Quoted from the "Canada's Stamps DETAILS", Vol. VII No 5, 1998: "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written by John Peters Humphrey, a Canadian born in ... Humphrey became Director of the Human Rights Division in the UN Secretariat and was tasked with drafting the Declaration. Unfortunately, his contribution somehow became obscured and a representative from France was credited as the "Father of the Universal Declaration" and awarded with the 1968 Nobel Prize". More recently, however, researchers uncovered Humphrey's draft, typed with his hand-written notations and he was subsequently honored with a UN Human Rights Prize".

Switzerland - Human Rights 1998 Canada. J.P. Humphrey France. R. Cassin & E. Roosevelt

   Above in the middle is reproduced the stamp issued by the Canadian Postal Administration in honor of Mr. J.P. Humphrey, on the right side the stamp issued by France, showing Mr. R. Casin, Mrs. E. Roosevelt and the Chaillot Palace

Joint issue Switzerland - China, 1998 The representatives

   In the "La Loupe", issued by the Swiss Postal Administration, October 1998 I found an interesting article. Author: Christoph Pappa, Federal Department for Foreign Affairs, Political Division IV, Bern. Text to the photography, reproduced above:

"The representatives who elaborated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948. From left to right: P.J.Schmidt, Administration of UN; C.L.Hsia, China; K.C.Neogi, India; Eleanor Roosevelt, USA; Henry Laugier, Assistant of the General secretary, USA; Nicoli Kruikov, USSR and Dusan Brkish, Yugoslavia. April 29, 1946". Translated from French by V.M.

    The whole thing raises several questions:

  • Who actually wrote the first version of the Declaration, the Canadian Mr. J.P. Humphrey, the  representative of France Mr. René Casin, the group from the photography or all of them, in successive steps?
  • Why is it so difficult to establish, after only 50 years, who has really elaborated it?
  • What is there to think about a declaration of Human Rights elaborated, among others, by the representatives of China, USSR and Yugoslavia, countries that never respected them?
  • And the last one, as extrapolation. If the UN, with its about 150 members, would exclude those countries that don't respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, how many of them would remain? My guess is: about a fifth of them!

    Another interesting extract from the same article: "Today, it is a question of smaller importance to know what the human rights are than to know how to make them be respected.". I wonder how the author will make respected some rights without defining them firstly. It is like establishing a police force and then seeing what its job is (what rights it must protect).

    And last but not least, a troubling coincidence. On October 25, 1998 the Swiss Postal Administration has issued some new philatelic materials. The same day as the world has got a Swiss stamp dedicated to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the first stamps shown on this page), it has also discovered a joint issue Switzerland - CHINA (2 stamps, a S/S, 2 MC, 2 FDCs, 4 special flights!) shown above on the right. The fact that a free country like Switzerland decided to issue a joint stamp with China (a country that systematically infringes the Human Rights) is already questionable. To issue it the same day with the stamp dedicated to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is more than questionable indeed! 


In the November 1998 issue of the Schweizer Briefmarken Zeitung (Swiss Stamps Magazine), the official publication of the Union of Swiss Philatelic Associations, page 583, there is an article with the title: The Post Communicates. The article, obviously written by someone representing the postal administration,  is dedicated to the joint issue Switzerland - China mentioned above. Quote: "The legendary Bridge 24 serves as a joining element. This important building was put in verses by many poets. Also the great Mao Tse-tung could not resist writing a poem about this bridge". Look how an laudable attempt to establish bridges among people is immediately used for propagandistic purposes, in our case for giving us a positive image (great Mao, oh  such a poet!) of the biggest murderer in the history of mankind (having on his conscience ten times more victims than all people killed during the horrible Holocaust in Europe). So much to the topic Human Rights.

This article was published on 10/9/98, in an adapted form, on the newsgroup 'rec.collecting.stamps. discuss'. The addendum was added on 11/08/98.

Interested in this subject? Then click here to jump to a page containing a conversation with Mr. John Hobbins, the historian at McGill University thanks to whom the true role of Mr. Humphrey was (re)discovered and internationally recognized.  Mr. Hobbins is the literary executor of John Peters Humphrey. 

Please click the link on the right to read an article where its author compares the U.N.'s Declaration with the Bill of Rights and the American Constitution.

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Revised: 12/04/08. Copyright © 1998 - 2000 by Victor Manta, switzerland. All rights reserved. Site's Banner