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 and International Trade 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:
- Optional Protocol (allowing individual complaints)
- Second Optional Protocol (aiming at abolishing the death penalty)
- Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict
- Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
For more information:
- What are human rights?
- Canada’s Commitment to Human Rights
- Canada’s Committment to Gender Equality
- Children’s Rights
- Universal Periodic Review
- Funding opportunities: The Glyn Berry Program
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