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

Publish Date: 
Monday, April 13, 2015

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 an articulation of the extra-territorial application of ICCPR obligations, including the legal obligation to regulate 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 called 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.