Canada clashes with UN rights panel over business behaviour abroad -

Canada clashes with UN rights panel over business behaviour abroad

Canadian delegation and the UN Human Rights Committee skirmished over several flashpoints, with three days of hearings wrapping up in Geneva


OTTAWA – The federal government clashed with a United Nations panel this week over whether a major international treaty applies to potential human rights violations by Canadian resources companies operating abroad.

The sharp difference of opinion was one of several flashpoints between Canada and the UN Human Rights Committee, which wrapped three days of hearings Wednesday in Geneva.

The committee asked Canada to provide answers to 24 questions on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including how it monitors the human rights conduct of Canadian resource companies operating abroad, some of which face lawsuits alleging abuse.

The Canadian delegation, led by a senior Justice Department official, appeared to shock the sensibilities of the 18-member committee when it evoked the principle of “extra-territoriality” for the employees of the 800 Canadian companies operating in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

That means that in the government’s view the treaty applies to Canadians in Canada, but not those working in foreign countries.

“A country could not just provide corporate identity to a company and then be unperturbed by whatever the company could do around the world,” a panel member told the Canadians, according to a UN document summarizing the proceedings.

The Canadian delegation pressed the issue saying, “individuals affected by the operation of Canadian companies abroad were thus not necessarily under Canadian jurisdiction.”

But the head of the committee appeared to differ.

“The final arbiter for the interpreting the Covenant was the Committee, not individual States,” said committee chair Fabian Omar Salvioli in his closing statement.

The Argentine human rights lawyer also noted that “activities of mining companies could affect many rights of local populations” and that “the issue of aboriginal peoples in Canada” was a major topic of inquiry during the hearings.

Shelagh Day, of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, a group that has advocated for aboriginal women, said she was disappointed by the Canadian response to a series of questions on missing and murdered aboriginal women, and other inequities involving First Nations.

“The comments of Canada regarding missing and murdered aboriginal women and Canada’s relationship with aboriginal peoples ring hollow,” she said.

“Canada is not engaged in a candid dialogue with the UN Human Rights Committee about its human rights performance, but in self-promotion.”

The panel also noted that Canada had not “abided by the views of the committee” in deporting a Somali citizen who faced persecution and a Jamaican who was exposed to police brutality after deportation.

“Despite recommendations to the contrary, information was allowed to be shared with a foreign country in security matters even if that would lead to torture,” the committee stated in the preamble to one question.

The Canadian delegation replied that “the committee’s views were not legally binding, but Canada had accepted its views in a majority of cases.”

The government also defended its policy of not providing health care to refugees, saying it believed it was complaint with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and stood by the new Citizenship Act.

The committee asked whether changes in the act that allow for the deportation of dual nationals convicted of terrorism, spying or treason could render someone stateless, but the government said they wouldn’t.

The committee also asked for more details about new anti-terrorism legislation because “there were fears that it could lead to very wide surveillance.”

The Canadian delegation said it was committed to protecting the rights of Canadians while combating terrorism.

The committee will issue a final report in two weeks.

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Canada clashes with UN rights panel over business behaviour abroad

  1. When Canada gets rid of Harp, we’ll revive our human rights everywhere.

  2. The sooner the UN is defunded and shut down the better.

    What an absolute waste of taxpayer dollars.

    • You have no idea what it is…..go find something to do

      • Emily, you are very self important and critically insulting to what other people do or think.

        On this issue I agree with Billy Bob – the UN is a waste of money, just as the peace keeping ventures that Canada’s leftists seem to think we should go back to were and are a joke.
        The classic example was the Suez crisis when we had units in El Arish separating the Egyptians and the Israelis. These efforts required agreement by both sides and when Egypt wanted to attack Israel they told the UN (and Canadian units) to leave, i.e get lost. Fortunately, the Israelis beat the can off them. There are some UN agencies that were enfolded in the UN but were existent before the UN, such as ICAO, ILO and so on. Their efforts to help feed people can also be laudatory.
        But the veto in the security council is an absolute bar to any useful conduct unless, as existed in the Korea the usual vetoing country (the Soviet Union)was absent, some say by design.

        • I have a right to express my opinion Blacktop….even though I’m female.

          The UN is the major player in the world, and Canada’s Peace Corps is rightly famous….a whole new way of dealing with thousands of years of war.

          Harp is the right PM for those keen to return to the old days and war that kills millions.

          • Your “opinion’ is usually at the expense of someone else’s. You belong back with Lydia Pankhurst. Your so-called “Peace Corps” was marginally useful in some circumstances but toothless when required to have teeth. Teddy Roosevelt had the right idea: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Your “peace” attitude was tried by the appeasers who brought the biggest killer of men women and children, in WWII because you can’t appease evil. .

        • Men on here say what they want, and in any way they want…..but you fuss over a female doing the same. Stop it.

          The Peace Corps was universally praised….and we are often requested. It’s still in existence btw….and will soon be big again.

          Peace-keepers a] make the peace. b] keep the peace c] Observe the peace d] exit.

          WWII….don’t go there, especially with your religion.

          • You are confusing the Kennedy era Peace Corps in the US with UN so-called peace keepers. I suggest you talk top a few — and appeasement before WWII is no different than appeasement now – before WWII it was terrifying fear of another trench slaughter WWI style Now it is fear of a nuclear conflagration and nobody is for that – except for idiots who don’t think.

            And you slur about my religion is another example that you are full of it.

          • Bye bye Blacktop. I hope your confusion clears up.

        • No, I’m not confusing anything….and I was in the military, remember?

          ‘Appeasement’ is a word that upsets men worried about their macho. Normal people call it diplomacy, or negotiations, or compromise.

          So 60 million people were killed.

          We didn’t need to have WWI or II.

          I’m an atheist…you know that…..and ‘evil’ is a religious belief no one else buys.

          • I am signing off. Your comments are typical of a sour old lady. I don’t care whether you are an atheist or a JW. As you said you were in the RCAF. You sound like your sour thoughts connected to the fighter control scandals of the 50’s? And your ignorance is reflected in your opinions (which you have a right to as a human, not necessarily as a “woman”. Your posts are a waste of time./ Goodbye.

  3. Bye bye Blacktop. I hope your confusion clears up.