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, from our central role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1947/1948 to our work at the United Nations today. Canada is a party to seven major international human rights conventions, as well as many others, and encourages all countries which have not made these commitments to do so.

In formulating its international human rights policy, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development seeks the views of the public, consults with other government departments and non-governmental organisations, engages in dialogue with counterparts abroad, and closely follows the work of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Human Rights and International Development and the Senate Committee on Human Rights.

Human rights is a central theme of Canadian foreign policy for a number of reasons:

  • Canadians expect their government to be a leader in the field of human rights by reflecting and promoting Canadian values.

  • Canadians recognise that their interests are best served by a stable, rules-based international system. Countries which respect the rule of law tend to respect the rights of their citizens, are more likely to benefit from development, and are much less likely to experience crises requiring peacekeeping, emergency assistance or refugee resettlement missions.

  • The UN Charter and customary international law impose on all countries the responsibility to promote and protect human rights. This is not merely a question of values, but a mutual obligation of all members of the international community, as well as an obligation of a state towards its citizens.

Seven principal human rights treaties which Canada has ratified:

  1. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  3. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  4. Convention Against Torture
  5. Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  6. Convention on the Rights of the Child
  7. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Status of Ratifications

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