By Lisa Wolff
Board Member, Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children
In September, the Government of Canada responded to the 162 recommendations it received to advance the human rights of Canadians, during the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in April, 2013. The UPR is a process to review, every five years, how each nation is advancing the realization of the human rights they have committed to in ratifying the core international human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Unlike specific treaty review processes, states are obligated to respond to the recommendations made by other states in the UPR. They may accept or reject recommendations – in part, in full, or in principle – and provide comments to justify their positions.
The Government of Canada accepted 122 of the 162 recommendations, in full, in part or in principle. However, as their response stated, the accepted recommendations are related to actions the government believes it is already implementing. There are no new actions or commitments, despite evidence of lapses in the protection of Canada’s children and clear opportunities to improve their well-being. It is also a poor example for other states which, as the Government of Canada has pointed out, have a great deal of room for improvement. The Government of Canada’s responses specifically in relation to children’s rights are distilled in this article, to inform the child-serving community in Canada of what they can expect – and not expect – to advance the rights and well-being of children.