As the world focuses on the country this year there are unparalleled opportunities for Canada to be a human rights leader, says Amnesty International Canada. The Winter Olympics and Paralympics have captured the world’s attention. And Canada will be again on the world stage as the host to the world’s most powerful countries at the G8 and G20 meetings in June.
“A new vision for politics, economic, security and humanitarianism of global affairs can emerge with decisive leadership,” notes Alex Neve Secretary General of the English branch of Amnesty International Canada. “But to be that champion Canada must reverse the erosion of its own reputation for human rights leadership.”
In a document released today, Canada and Human Rights in 2010: Time to Return to Leadership, Amnesty International Canada outlines how the government should address human rights protection in a number of areas and champion this “new vision”.
Amnesty International welcomed the government’s announcement that the issue of maternal and child health will be a priority at the G8 Summit in June. It is critically important that the tragically high rates of maternal mortality around the world be addressed. Recent reports from Amnesty International have documented how many women die while giving birth in countries like Burkino Faso, Peru and Sierra Leone.
“The solutions to the tragedy of maternal mortality are not simply matters of health policy and economics”, says Beatrice Vaugrante, Director general of the francophone branch of Amnesty International Canada. “They are rooted in discrimination, inequality and violence against women and girls. That is why a human rights approach must be adopted by the G8 summit.”
At the June G20 Summit of the world’s leading economic powers, following the G8 meeting, Canada, should seek agreement to develop standards for business and human rights that are critical to closing the regulatory and accountability gaps within the global and national economies. It is a crucial time for action as countries struggle to recover from the dramatic downturn while one billion people worldwide still live in extreme poverty.
Amnesty International Canada, as part of a broad coalition of organizations, is calling on the government to ensure that poverty eradication, economic recovery for all and environmental justice is at the centre of the Summit agendas, grounded in human rights standards.
“International leadership at the Summits must be matched by efforts to arrest the erosion of human rights protection within Canada”, says Neve. “Canada is only credible internationally if it has a consistent approach nationally.”
The Amnesty International Canada human rights agenda highlights a number of areas where Canada has failed to take the lead. Commitment to the rights of Indigenous peoples has been weakened by the failure to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That position must be reversed. The discriminatory levels of funding for First Nations child protection agencies must be ended. And a comprehensive national action plan to address violence against Indigenous women is needed.