UN Peace Day is a time for Canadians to reflect on core values

Each year the UN International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has unanimously declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

Hearkening back to a pivotal document in the establishment of the United Nations, this year’s theme is: The Right to Peace: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.

A Canadian, John Peters Humphrey, the first director of the UN Human Rights Division, played a pivotal role in the drafting of this document.  It is also interesting to note in light of current events that, while no UN member state voted against the universal declaration, eight countries abstained, including Saudi Arabia.

Broadly speaking, John Peters Humphrey was one of the most important and influential figures in the history of human rights. In many ways, his work has helped shape the culture and politics of human rights in countries across the world. – Shaden Hetu-Frankel, McGill Blogs

Since that landmark document was achieved, the United Nations and its member states have come to understand that a positive peace, based on a just and inclusive society, is an essential precondition for sustainable development.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reminder that peace takes root when people are free from hunger, poverty and oppression and can thrive and prosper. – UN Secretary-General António Guterres

It is fitting that Canadians take pride in the central role that one of our own played in the achievement of a pivotal human rights document to guide and inspire the world.  But to truly honour the legacy of John Humphrey, we must surely address the question posed by NDP MP Hélène Laverdière in the House of Commons on 20 September:

How can Canada defend human rights while selling arms to Saudi Arabia?

For more information on Saudi Arabian atrocities in Yemen, see: UN experts accuse Saudi Arabia, U.A.E. of war crimes in Yemen (Associated Press via CBC.ca news, 28 August 2018).

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons images (Doves)




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5 Responses to “UN Peace Day is a time for Canadians to reflect on core values”

  1. Guy St HilaireSeptember 22, 2018 at 8:57 am #

    Most that follow Ceasefire.ca are quite well aware of the armament situation and how it has become the last corporate profit greed that supports our Western economies .
    As long as the majority of the population remain ignorant or the fact that we have been told lies by our very own media and actually live in a sea of lies , we will never know peace.
    Read the following article by John Pilger , a journalist and documentary producer of the utmost integrity .

  2. Jennifer WadeSeptember 22, 2018 at 12:37 am #

    John humphreys was not an architect of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. He wrote the document in its final form at the request of Eleanor Roosevelt (there were no computers then), but the real architects were of course the two European gentlemen and Eleanor roosevelt herself. When Eleanor Roosevelt’s grand daughter once heard such claims being made for John humphreys at a UN Meeting in New York by a Canadian, she immediately stood up and addressed the matter as being incorrect.

  3. Angus CunninghamSeptember 21, 2018 at 7:24 pm #

    What a colossal disgrace! And just as much in Ottawa as in other political capitals.

  4. Ann CoffeySeptember 21, 2018 at 7:07 pm #

    All this talk of “core values” and human rights is pure hypocrisy. The fact is that if Canada is selling arms to Saudi Arabia, Canada is complicit in its war crimes against Yemeni civilians. Germany, the world’s fifth largest arms manufacturer, just yesterday (September 20th) reversed a ban on selling arms to Saudi Arabia, so Germany is also complicit.

    A year ago members of the European Parliament renewed their call for a European Union arms embargo against Saudi Arabia because of that country’s breach of international humanitarian law in Yemen. Many words, many meetings, many resolutions, many groups pushing for an embargo, but still no concerted action to stop contributing to the killing and destruction. The EU is also complicit.

    Why do we even bother to have international human rights laws if we don’t uphold them? It seems that arms manufacturing countries care more about protecting their financial interests than protecting the lives of Yemeni civilians, or civilians in any other nation under attack. They certainly don’t seem to care about their complicity in war crimes.

  5. Larry KazdanSeptember 21, 2018 at 5:44 pm #

    Canada cannot export weapons to Saudi Arabia without being complicit in the gross violations of human rights being perpetrated by Saudi forces. In addition to Canada taking a more active diplomatic role in resolving the Yemen conflict, it is absolutely critical that this arms deal is cancelled and that Bill-C47 ensures an acceptably high standard for Canadian arms exports moving forward.