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Canada’s approach to advancing human rights

The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canadian efforts abroad. As part of this commitment, Canada champions the values of:

What Canada is doing for human rights

Canada has been a consistently strong voice for the protection of human rights and the advancement of democratic values. This started with our central role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1947-1948 to our work at the United Nations today.

We are party to seven major international human rights conventions, as well as many others, and encourage all countries which have not made these commitments to do so.

We take our international human rights obligations seriously, including those articulated in the:

The human rights treaty bodies of the United Nations are a vital aspect of a strong and effective international human rights system.  We are also committed to maintaining a constructive dialogue with the UN and other international bodies to which we belong.

We focus our efforts on key issues, such as:

How Canada promotes human rights

All countries have a duty to promote and protect human rights under International law and the United Nations Charter.  We work with other states to help them meet their human rights commitments, including through:

Who we work with to improve human rights worldwide

Taking part in multilateral fora like the United Nations is an effective way to advance human rights. Canada was instrumental in the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Today, we are recognized as a world leader for our efforts to promote and protect human rights through:

Canada actively participates as an observer at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and is fully engaged in the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee. The Committee is the key multilateral institutions mandated specifically to consider human rights issues.

Canada has also been a leading proponent of the Universal Periodic Review. This evaluates the human rights performance of all 193 UN member States on a periodic basis. Canada was last reviewed in 2013 and is tentatively scheduled for its next review in 2018.

Crafting Canadian policy

To develop our international human rights policy, the Government of Canada undertakes a number of activities, including:

We also closely follow the work of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Human Rights and International Development and the Senate Committee on Human Rights.

Canadian ministers and officials regularly discuss human rights issues with their foreign counterparts at all levels. 

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