Canada has a strong record of accepting international obligations, including by ratifying most of the major international human rights treaties. However, Canada’s record is less exemplary when it comes to complying with the findings and recommendations that come out of UN reviews. Canada’s human rights record attracted considerable UN-level attention over the course of 2012. The reviews covered a range of ongoing and very serious human rights concerns in the country. Amnesty International’s 2013 Human Rights Agenda for Canada is calling for concerted action to address this deepening concern.
Rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments apply globally and equally to all people. The integrity of the system depends on all countries, including Canada, living up to those obligations and being held accountable when they fail to do so. It will require leadership. It will require political will. And it will require cooperation and coordination among federal, provincial and territorial governments. But it cannot wait any longer.
The 2013 Human Rights Agenda reviews developments and concerns with respect to eight main areas:
- the rights of Indigenous peoples;
- women’s human rights;
- corporate accountability and trade policy;
- the rights of refugees and migrants;
- Canadians subject to human rights violations abroad;
- economic, social and cultural rights;
- advocacy and dissent;
- and engagement with the multilateral human rights system.
In each area a key recommendation is offered, reflective of a concern that has been repeatedly raised by UN experts and bodies but which remains unaddressed and unimplemented (often after many years).