Canada’s extra-territorial human rights obligations to be scrutinized under both human rights Covenants

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The Human Rights Committee, which monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), is set to scrutinize Canada regarding its extra-territorial human rights obligations under the Covenant.  Canada will appear before the Committee in July 2015 for its periodic review.

The Committee has made clear that the ICCPR includes extra-territorial obligations to respect and to ensure human rights, including by regulating and otherwise holding corporations accountable to those obligations for their activities abroad.

The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights successfully intervened with a Parallel Report laying out the extra-territorial obligations under the ICCPR and requesting that the Committee include scrutiny on those obligations within the periodic review of Canada.

The List of Issues recently adopted by the Committee, which defines the scope of review, requires Canada to “inform the Committee of any measures taken or envisaged to monitor the human rights conduct of Canadian oil, mining, and gas companies operating abroad” and to “also inform what the available legal venues are in the State party for victims of human rights abuses arising from overseas operations of Canadian extractive firms.”  As the GI-ESCR Parallel Report makes clear, the jurisprudence of the Committee provides a clear articulation of the extra-territorial application of ICCPR obligations, including the legal obligation to regulated Canadian corporations to ensure that they do not violate human rights abroad, and the legal obligation to provide access to justice in the event of such violations.

The Global Initiative has since submitted a Parallel Report for the periodic review which will call on the Committee to hold Canada accountable for extra-territorial obligations in the context of Canadian corporations involved in building Israeli settlements in Palestine and extractive industries in Central America.

The Global Initiative’s Parallel Report regarding the List of Issues can be found HERE.

The List of Issues can be found HERE.

The Joint Global Initiative and Western New England School of Law Human Rights Clinic Parallel Report can be found HERE.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), is set to scrutinize Canada regarding its extra-territorial human rights obligations under that Covenant.  Canada will appear before the Committee in February 2016 for its periodic review.

Like the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has made clear that the ICESCR includes extra-territorial obligations to respect, protect and fulfill human rights abroad.

The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights successfully intervened with a Parallel Report to ensure that the List of Issues included Canada’s extra-territorial obligations.

In the List of Issues adopted by the Committee, it asked Canada to “provide information on measures taken, including legislative, regulatory, policies and guidance to ensure that private companies respect economic, social and cultural rights throughout their operations, including when operating abroad” as well as to “also inform on remedies available for victims and describe grievance mechanisms in place and elaborate on their mandates.”

According to Bret Thiele, Co-Executive Director of the GI-ESCR, “These examinations of Canada under both key human rights Covenants provide advocates the opportunity to address the issue of extra-territorial obligations and corporate accountability and provides the Committees the opportunity to further reaffirm that the ICCPR and ICESCR contain extra-territorial human rights obligations to which States parties must adhere.”

Thiele added that “It is hoped that the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in particular builds on its ETO pronouncements with stronger statements on the extra-territorial obligation to fulfill human rights, including through both bilateral and multilateral development cooperation and trade agreements.”

The Global Initiative’s Parallel Report regarding the List of Issues can be found HERE.

The List of Issues can be found HERE.

Categories Uncategorized | Tags: | Posted on March 31, 2015

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