Official Development Assistance Accountability Act - Consistency with International Human Rights Standards

As per section 4.1 of the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act (the Act or ODAAA), "Official development assistance may be provided only if the competent minister is of the opinion that it (a) contributes to poverty reduction; (b) takes into account the perspectives of the poor; and (c) is consistent with international human rights standards".

The Act defines"international human rights standards" as standards that are based on international human rights conventions to which Canada is a party and on international customary law (see Annex B for the list of such standards).

For its programming to be consistent with international human rights standards, the applicant should be able to demonstrate, at a minimum, that it can reasonably expect to "do no harm",  meaning that due diligence is exercised to avoid undermining human rights in the country or community. Many development initiatives go beyond this condition, by directly promoting and protecting human rights in developing countries.  Such programming is an even stronger demonstration of adherence to the spirit of the Act.


Canada has international human rights obligations.

By being mindful of the potential for doing harm through development investments, the applicant can avoid or mitigate the risks that marginalized, excluded and vulnerable groups face, and in doing so render its development efforts more sustainable by addressing inequalities and reducing potential sources of conflict. Moreover, some of the treaties to which Canada is a party make specific reference to international assistance as a complement to country resources to ensure the progressive realization of rights that require public investments.

The following are three key aspects of human rights:

Affirmative action in favor of traditionally excluded groups is a good practice and is not considered as preventing other groups from realizing their own rights. The applicant can chose to focus on advancing specific rights – e.g. girls' access to education, decent employment for persons with disabilities, agricultural livelihoods based on indigenous peoples' knowledge – or contribute to strengthening human rights institutions more broadly.

Demonstrating that Condition of Section 4.1(c) is Met

The initiative documentation (application form, proposal or bid) should contain the following information:

If there is reasonable expectation that any of the questions below can be answered in the affirmative, then the condition of section 4.1(c) is not met unless appropriate and sufficient mitigation measures are identified by the applicant.

3.  Mitigation Measures

When human rights issues are identified based on questions number 1, 2 and 3 above, it is important to propose appropriate and sufficient measures to address the potential human rights concerns and, where relevant. Appropriate means that the measures are tailored to the identified human rights issue. Sufficient means that the measures are proportionate to the likelihood and magnitude of impact of a possible human rights violation.

Below are some examples of possible response measures:

Annex A: Key Sources of Human Rights Information

Annex B: What are International Human Rights Standards?

International Human Rights Conventions to which Canada is a Party

Canada has ratified the following international human rights treaties:

Additional human rights instruments may also be relevant to this listing, such as the International Labour Organization Conventions, (e.g. Convention No. 182 concerning the Worst Forms of Child Labour) the Rome Statue, and the Geneva Conventions.

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