Reports on United Nations human rights treaties

Canada has been a 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 UN today. Canada has ratified seven major UN human rights treaties and must submit periodic reports on how it implements each of these treaties.

Accompanying each report is a core document, used as a reference by the UN Human Rights Committee. The core document provides an overview of Canada’s political system and the general legal framework for human rights protection.

Read Canada’s most recent reports on the seven principal human rights treaties below. Previous treaty reports can be found by searching the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Treaty Body Database.

On this page:

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Background

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) was opened for signature by the UN General Assembly on December 19, 1966. It entered into force on March 23, 1976, the same year Canada became party to the ICCPR. Canada is required under the ICCPR to submit periodic reports to the UN Human Rights Committee; it has consistently submitted reports since it ratified the Covenant.

Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR-OP1) was opened for signature by the UN General Assembly on December 19, 1966. It entered into force on March 23, 1976, and Canada ratified it that same year.

Under article 1 of the Optional Protocol, State Parties accept the Human Rights Committee’s competence to consider a complaint by an individual that the State Party has violated their rights under the Covenant. The complaint must address a violation of any of the rights under the ICCPR by that State Party. Individuals who make a complaint to the Committee must first have exhausted all domestic remedies and must be subject to the State Party’s jurisdiction.

While the complaint is under consideration, the Committee may make a non-legally binding request to the State Party known as an “interim measures request.” These requests are intended to prevent any irreparable harm. After consideration of the individual’s complaint and the State’s written reply, the Committee will issue its final views. The Committee’s views and recommendations are not legally binding on State Parties.

Reports

See Canada’s most recent report:

  • The Sixth Report of Canada on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, covering January 2005 to December 2009

See Canada’s previous report:

  • The Interim Report in follow-up to the review of the Fifth Report of Canada on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, November 2006

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Background

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) was opened for signature by the UN General Assembly on December 19, 1966. It entered into force on January 3, 1976, the same year Canada became party to it. The ICESCR requires States Parties to file periodic reports to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In the past, reports were made to the UN Economic and Social Council in three stages, dealing with specific groups of articles of the ICESCR because of the complexity of the subject matter. However, since the third report, Canada submits one report to cover all the articles in the Covenant.

Reports

See Canada’s most recent report:

  • The Sixth Report of Canada on the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, covering January 2005 to December 2009

See Canada’s previous report:

  • The Fifth Report of Canada on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, covering September 1999 to December 2004

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Background

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) was opened for signature by the UN General Assembly on December 21, 1965. It entered into force on January 4, 1969. Canada submitted its first report in September 1971, and continues to consistently submit reports.

Reports

See Canada’s most recent report:

See Canada’s previous report:

  • The Interim Report of Canada in follow-up to the review of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Reports on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, September 2014
  • The Nineteenth and Twentieth Reports of Canada on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, covering June 2005 to May 2009
  • The Interim Report of Canada in follow-up to the review of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Reports on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, July 2009

Reviews

Canada’s most recent appearance before the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination took place on August 14 and 15, 2017:

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

Background

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was opened for signature by the UN General Assembly on March 1, 1980. It entered into force on September 3, 1981. Canada signed the CEDAW on July 17, 1980, and ratified it on December 10, 1981. This convention stipulates that States Parties submit reports every four years. To date, a total of seven reports have been submitted to the Committee.

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted by the UN General Assembly on October 6, 1999. It entered into force on December 22, 2000, and Canada became party to the Protocol on October 18, 2002.

The Optional Protocol allows individual women or groups of women to submit complaints to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women about alleged violations of the CEDAW. For a complaint to be admissible, all domestic remedies must first have been exhausted.

While the complaint is under consideration, the Committee may make a non-legally binding request to the State Party known as an “interim measures request.” These requests are intended to prevent any irreparable harm. After consideration of the individual’s complaint and the State’s reply, the Committee will issue its final views. The Committee’s views and recommendations are not legally binding on State Parties.

This optional protocol also allows the Committee to conduct investigations and inquiries into grave or systematic violations of the Convention.

Reports

See Canada’s most recent reports:

See Canada’s previous report:

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Background

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) was opened for signature by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1984. It entered into force on June 26, 1987. Canada signed the CAT on August 23, 1985, and ratified it on June 24, 1987. Canada must submit a report every four years and has consistently submitted its reports.

On November 13, 1989, Canada made declarations under articles 21 and 22 of the Convention, recognizing that the Committee against Torture can receive and consider complaints.

First, a State Party could claim that Canada is not fulfilling its obligations under the Convention. This process has never been used by any State Party.

Second, individuals subject to Canada’s jurisdiction who claim to be victims of a violation under the Convention may submit a written complaint. All domestic remedies must be exhausted before the individual can make a complaint to the Committee.

While the complaint is under consideration, the Committee may make a non-legally binding request to Canada known as an “interim measures request.” These requests are intended to prevent any irreparable harm. After consideration of the individual’s complaint and the State’s reply, the Committee will issue its final views. The Committee’s views and recommendations are not legally binding.

Find more information about how international human rights complaints are processed through the UN and the Organization of American States.

Reports

See Canada’s most recent report:

  • The Seventh Report of Canada on the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was submitted to the UN on August 5, 2016. The Report is now available on the UN website.

See Canada’s previous reports:

  • The Interim Report in follow-up to the review of Canada’s Sixth Report on the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, August 2013

  • The Sixth Report of Canada on the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, covering August 2004 to December 2007

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Background

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was opened for signature by the UN General Assembly on November 20, 1989. It entered into force on September 2, 1990. Canada signed the CRC on May 28, 1990, and ratified it on December 13, 1991. The CRC required a report covering the first two years following its ratification. After this initial report, Canada has been required to submit a report every five years, and has since submitted consistently.

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (CRC-OP-AC) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on May 25, 2000. It entered into force on February 12, 2002. Canada ratified the Protocol on July 7, 2000.

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (CRC-OP-SC) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on May 25, 2000. It entered into force on January 18, 2002.

Reports

Canada’s most recent report:

  • The First Report of Canada on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, February 2009

Canada’s previous report:

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Background

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 13, 2006. Canada was one of the first countries to sign the Convention on March 30, 2007. It ratified the Convention on March 11, 2010, after consultations with the provinces and territories, Indigenous self-governments, and Canadians – particularly those from the disability community. Canada is required to submit a report every four years.

The Convention calls on State Parties to ensure non-discrimination for persons with disabilities in a variety of areas, including freedom of expression and opinion, respect for home and the family, education, health, employment, access to services. The Convention complements Canada’s existing equality and non-discrimination protection for persons with disabilities under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and in federal, provincial and territorial human rights legislation. Canada also implements the Convention through the many policies and programs aimed at providing access and services to persons with disabilities.

Reports

Canada’s most recent report:

Reviews

Canada’s most recent appearance before the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities took place on April 3-4, 2017:

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