Canada's performance and reporting to the United Nations

Canada plays a major role in promoting universal respect for human rights on the international stage. While we provide support abroad, we must also account for our actions within our country to identify strengths and areas where improvements are needed.

Reports on the United Nations human rights treaties

Canada has ratified seven principal United Nations human rights conventions and covenants, also called treaties, and is required to submit reports every four or five years on its implementation of each of these treaties. Each treaty has established a committee of independent experts (also known as a “treaty body”) that reviews the report.

Once a report is submitted to the appropriate UN committee, a delegation of officials from Canada appears before the committee to present its report and answer questions in an interactive dialogue. Following the review, the committee issues concluding observations on Canada’s implementation of the treaty provisions. The committee may make non-binding recommendations on how the State Party can improve.

Read more on these seven treaties and the reports on the United Nations human rights treaties.

Universal Periodic Review

Under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), each State is reviewed by other UN Member States on the fulfillment of its human rights obligations and commitments. The UPR is a peer-review process, with all countries being reviewed on a four-and-a-half-year cycle. The aim of the UPR is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations whenever they occur.

The UPR takes into consideration written input from three sources: a national report from the State under review; a compilation of recommendations from UN human rights treaty bodies and special procedures; as well as a summary of information and recommendations provided by civil society organizations.

Canada, or the State under review, then undergoes the review process conducted by the 47-member UN Human Rights Council meeting as a UPR Working Group, and chaired by the President of the Council. Each review is formatted as an interactive dialogue between Council members and the reviewed State.

Following the review, a report is prepared by the Working Group. It contains a summary of the interactive dialogue and includes recommendations and observations made by UN Member States to the Member State under review. The State under review will subsequently provide a written response to the recommendations, indicating which it accepts to implement and which it notes for consideration.

Finally, the outcome of the review is adopted by the Human Rights Council, and the State under review is encouraged by the international community to commit to implementing all recommendations.

See more information on the Universal Periodic Review process.

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