Human rights

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

Article 1, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Canadians expect their government to be a leader in the human rights field by reflecting and promoting Canadian values on the international stage. The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canadian foreign policy.

Canada’s international human rights policy

Canada has been a consistently strong voice for the protection of human rights and the advancement of democratic values. Canada takes principled positions on important issues to ensure that freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, values that define this country, are enjoyed around the world.

Canada takes its international human rights obligations seriously and is committed to maintaining a constructive dialogue with the UN human rights treaty bodies, which are a vital aspect of a strong and effective international human rights system. For more information, see Canada’s International Human Rights Policy.

Canada’s human rights obligations

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966 and protects a broad range of civil and political rights. Canada has been a party to the Covenant since 1976. For more information, see UN Human Rights Committee and the ICCPR.

On July 23, 2015, the Human Rights Committee released its concluding observations, marking the end of the Review of Canada’s 6th Report on the ICCPR. Canada welcomes the observations and recommendations made by the Committee and will carefully review them. For more information, see Canada’s appearance before the Committee during the review of its 6th report on the ICCPR.

Gender equality

Canada is a world leader in the promotion and protection of women’s rights and gender equality. These issues are central to Canada’s foreign and domestic policies. For more information, see Canada’s commitment to gender equality and the advancement of women’s rights internationally.

Children’s rights

It is because of the unique vulnerability of children that their rights are of priority concern within Canada’s foreign policy. For more information, see Children’s Human Rights.

Universal Periodic Review

Canada was a leading proponent of the initiative to review the human rights performance of every UN member state on a regular basis. For more information, see Universal Periodic Review.

Indigenous affairs

Aboriginal people in Canada are taking an increasingly active role on the world stage, in fields such as human rights, respect of cultural and linguistic diversity, environmental protection and more. For more information, see Canada and International Indigenous Affairs.

A free Internet

Canada believes individuals’ rights and freedoms should be protected online just as they are offline. For more information, see Internet Foreign Policy Issues.