John Humphrey, McGill University law professor and human rights advocate, became the first director of the United Nations Division of Human Rights in 1946 and held the position until 1966.
The first of three projected volumes of Humphrey's diaries, Volume 1 (1948-49) covers the meetings in Geneva and Paris leading to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (of which Humphrey had prepared the first draft); the daily activities of the UN Secretariat in Lake Success, N.Y.; and his visit to Strasbourg for the first Council of Europe.
Humphrey details his interactions with international officials such as Trygve Lie and Henri Laugier, national representatives, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Pierre Mendès-France, and René Cassin, and a social circle that included Gabrielle Roy, F.R. Scott, and Hugh MacLennan.
The Humphrey diaries represent an important primary source for the study of the international law of human rights and the development of the postwar UN human rights program.