Canadian Tribute to Human Rights

Photo of a stone plaque with view up to the sky above
Canadian Tribute to Human Rights

Located in downtown Ottawa, this monument is the first in the world dedicated to universal human rights. It is a tribute to the historic struggle of all people to obtain and safeguard their fundamental rights. This monument symbolizes Canadians’ commitment to live in peace in a society based on these rights.

The monument portal is inscribed with the first words of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Within the monument, granite plaques are inscribed with the words “Equality,” “Dignity” and “Rights” in 73 languages of Canada’s First Nations peoples. The plaques highlight the vital role that language plays in preserving culture.

September 24, 1998, marked the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To honour the occasion, the President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, unveiled a commemorative plaque at the monument which was dedicated to John Peters Humphrey. This Canadian jurist was the author of the first draft of the declaration, during the time that he was director of the United Nations Division of Human Rights.

The monument was created by Melvin Charney in 1989, and unveiled in 1990 by the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s leader in exile.

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