Alex Neve on Canada’s diminished stature as a human rights leader

by Alex Neve

In previous columns I have written about the fact that Canada’s approach to implementing its international human rights obligations is rather a shambles. I have written of the pressing need for action to address violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada. And I have highlighted the mystifying failure of the Canadian government to sign on to a UN torture prevention treaty that is more than a decade old.

Those all came together in a very significant way earlier this fall. Sadly the disappointment and shortcomings have only deepened.

2013 has brought Canada’s second turn through the UN Human Rights Council’s still relatively new Universal Periodic Review process. The UPR, as it is known, marks the first time in UN history that there has been a mechanism responsible for reviewing the human rights record of every UN member state on an ongoing basis. Countries big and small, powerful and powerless, notorious and overlooked; all are reviewed. It happens once every four years. Canada was up for the first time in 2009; and again this year.

The first step came in April when states had their chance to put recommendations for improvement in front of Canada. Then in September it was Canada’s turn to announce which of those recommendations it was prepared to accept.



Categories: Canada and international law

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