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Human Rights

Human Rights

Human Rights


Published on 14 December 2012
Hansard and Statements by Senator Roméo Dallaire (retired)

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire:

Honourable senators, I have notes of thanks and recognition from the Secretary General of the United Nations, who, yesterday, through his human rights secretary, underscored the presence of Canadians on the international scene and the impact they are having in terms of human rights.

This is what we were involved with yesterday, at the behest of Senator Day, who is a patron of The Hampton John Peters Humphrey Foundation, in Hampton, New Brunswick.

John Peters Humphrey was the fundamental author of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Yesterday a book was launched, which is the story of his life, his accomplishments and his background. It is entitled The Boy Who Was Bullied, because of his losing an arm when he was young, and also losing his parents at 11. The book outlines how he overcame that and built the concept of human rights; he articulated it and wrote it down.

It is interesting that the primary argument Mr. Humphrey used in preparing that was the fact that he was tired of fighting those who were bullying him. He decided that if he made peace, then maybe he would resolve the problem. In fact, by articulating words of peace and respect, he actually came forward and broke out of that mould of fighting those with aggression and conflict who might create frictions with others. On the contrary, He took the debate to a higher plane, the plane of human rights; the plane not of tolerance but of respect.

We also recognized yesterday that it was the sixty-fourth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. We are ending a special year, which the Secretary-General has called the ‘year of prevention.’

This is a new aspect for the UN, to actually create a body to prevent. It has the UNDP and other elements, but this is to create a body to prevent. Having served on the Secretary-General’s Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention, and having worked on the application of responsibility to protect, which is the operationalization of that prevention tool, it was again interesting for me yesterday that this whole realm emanates from the work done by John Peters Humphrey and by that team in 1948.

I would like to bring to the attention of honourable senators the words of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng Francis Deng. I remind honourable senators that for national religious, ethnic and racial groups, their lives are currently under duress in many countries, from Congo to Mali to Sudan to Syria. We are still on the periphery of trying to resolve these conflicts, let alone the ultimate aim of preventing these conflicts and the massive abuses of human rights that they create.