Canada & the UN: Conventions and Treaties

Want to learn about Canada’s long history of engagement with the United Nations, but don’t know where to begin? Here’s a list of the conventions and treaties that Canada has ratified to get you started.

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AN OVERVIEW OF RELEVANT CONVENTIONS & TREATIES RELATED TO CANADA  AND THE UNITED NATIONS

UN Slavery Convention (1926)
Signed: September 25, 1926
Accession: August 6, 1928
The Slavery Convention aimed to reduce slavery and combat the slave trade. Canada signed on to the Protocol amending the Slavery Convention in 1953.

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948)
Signed: November 28, 1949
Ratification: September 3, 1952
The Genocide Convention provides a legal definition for genocide, and advised countries to prevent and punish this crime whether in peace or wartime.

Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951)
Accession: June 4, 1969
This Convention defines the term ‘refugee’ and establishes a framework for the rights of individuals who are granted asylum.

Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1953)
Accession: January 30, 1957
This Convention aims to codify women’s political rights after World War II.

Convention on the Nationality of Married Women (1957)
Signed: February 20, 1957
Ratified: October 21, 1959
This legislation aims to protect the right of married women to retain or renounce citizenship, particularly after marrying someone outside their country or of a different nationality.

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965)
Signed: 1966
Ratified: 1970
Countries who sign this convention agree to work toward the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of inter-racial understanding. Canada completed its nineteenth and twentieth reports in 2011.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
Accession: May 19, 1976
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights lists States’ obligations to respect individuals’ civil and political rights, which include rights to physical integrity (arts 6-8), liberty and security of the person (arts 9-11), the right to procedural fairness (arts 14-16), and individual liberties (arts 12, 13, 17-24, 27). Article 40 requires all State Parties to submit reports on the measures adopted to implement the Covenant. Canada’s sixth report, which covers the period from January 2006 – December 2009, lists how the federal and provincial governments have complied with their obligations under the Covenant. CCLA appeared before the UN Committee on Human Rights, which evaluates state party reports under this Covenant, in July 2015 and made written and oral submissions.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)
Accession: May 1976
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was established to ensure that non-self-governing and trust territories and individuals are granted economic, social and cultural rights. Canada is also obligated to produce reports on its implementation of this Covenant, the last of which covers the period of January 2005 – December 2009. CCLA appeared before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in February 2016 and made written and oral submissions.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979)
Signed: July 17, 1980
Ratified: December 10, 1981
CEDAW aims to realize equality between men and women by highlighting the civil rights of women amongst other important issues. Canada was one of the first countries to sign and ratify CEDAW and also acceded to the Optional Protocol in October 2002. Canada is also obligated to report the federal and provincial measures adopted to implement CEDAW, which it did in its joint sixth and seventh reports. It also provided an interim report and supplemental report in 2010 for additional information.

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984)
Signed: August 23, 1985
Ratified: June 24, 1987
The Convention prohibits states from transporting individuals to a country if there is reason they might be tortured. The Convention requires the submission of reports every four years. Canada submitted its sixth report in 2011, and CCLA made submissions. Canada has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol, which aims to organize visits to places where individuals are deprived of liberty with the goal of preventing torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. However, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion announced in May 2016 that under the current government, Canada is now committed to signing this Protocol.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
Signed: May 28, 1990
Ratified: December 13, 1991
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is a treaty that provides for the human rights of children, which are defined as any human being under the age of eighteen. Pursuant to Article 44, all parties must submit reports on how they have given effect to their obligations under the Convention and on their progress in implementing them. Canada’s last report covered the period of January 1998 – December 2007, and details the measures adopted by federal and provincial governments to enhance the implementation of the Convention.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006)
Signed: March 30, 2007
Ratified: March 11, 2010
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was designed to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Canada was one of the first countries to sign the Convention, which complements existing obligations under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in other federal and provincial legislation. The Convention stipulates that State Parties must provide reports. Canada produced its first report in 2014.

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007)
Signed: States do not sign/ratify declaration adopted in the UN General Assembly
Initially, Canada refused to endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is an instrument established to ensure the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples. This position was reversed in 2010, when Canada endorsed it as an ‘aspirational’ document.In December 2015, Canada announced that it will implement the UNDRIP.

OTHER UNITED NATIONS TREATIES SIGNED BY CANADA

Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1954)
United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols (2000)

INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION TREATIES SIGNED BY CANADA

Convention (no 87) concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize (1948)
Convention (no 100) concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value (1951)
Convention (no 105) concerning the Abolition of Forced Labour (1957)
Convention (no 111) concerning Discrimination in respect of Employment and Occupation (1958)
Convention (no 122) concerning Employment Policy (1964)
Convention 182 on the Prohibition and Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (1999)

ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES TREATIES SIGNED BY CANADA

Convention on the Nationality of Women (1934)
Inter-American Convention on the Granting of Political Rights to Women (1948, ratified by Canada in 1991)
Inter-American Convention on the Granting of Civil Rights to Women (1949)

HUMANITARIAN CONVENTIONS SIGNED BY CANADA

Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, of August 12, 1949
Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, of August 12, 1949
Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, of August 12, 1949
Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of August 12, 1949
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I)
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II)
Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (Protocol III)

TREATIES AND CONVENTIONS THAT CANADA HAS NOT SIGNED OR RATIFIED
The Convention on Migrant Workers
The Convention on Enforced Disappearances

Brenda McPhail
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