The Principal International Human Rights Instruments to Which Canada Has Not Yet Adhered

Posted: 23 Apr 2011 Last revised: 19 Jul 2013

See all articles by Nicole LaViolette

Nicole LaViolette

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2006


Although Canada is perceived internationally as an ardent defender of human rights and promoter of democratic values, this article reveals that Canada has yet to ratify 29 treaties relating to human rights. The Author critically examines the motives underlying the Canadian Government’s refusal to ratify each of these international human rights instruments by dividing the treaties into three main categories: instruments for which motives are unknown, instruments for which ratification no longer seems relevant and instruments for which ratification remains under consideration. While the author recognizes that the refusal to ratify certain treaties is appropriate, she nevertheless emphasizes that in many cases, the Canadian government has either not provided a comprehensive justification for refusing to adhere to a convention, or is unable to move beyond unending negotiations with provincial and territorial governments. The article emphasizes that the treaty ratification process, as it applies to human rights instruments, falls short of establishing a meaningful and thorough public policy process. Accordingly, the author suggests that change must be made to ratification policies and processes to allow for a transparent, accountable and effective examination and approval of human rights treaties.

Suggested Citation

LaViolette, Nicole, The Principal International Human Rights Instruments to Which Canada Has Not Yet Adhered (2006). Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, Vol. 24, No. 2, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Nicole LaViolette (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5

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