A group of Windsor Law Professors have written submissions about five critical areas of human rights and civil liberties concerns, for the forthcoming 2018 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Canada. The UPR process, which began after 2007, is a process of the UN Human Rights Council that uniquely allows all 193 UN Member States to engage in a ‘peer-review process’: States raise concerns and identify challenges regarding human rights practice and protections in each country. The country under review has an opportunity to hear all the concerns raised, and respond regarding its challenges, and also to undertake voluntary pledges and commitments. For example, in the last UPR held in 2013, Canada agreed to recommendations that it should commit to working to end racial discrimination in the country. Canada will be up for its 3rd UPR in May 2018. More information about the UPR process can be found on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) website.
While the UPR is a UN member state driven process, civil society can also participate. Windsor Law professors saw this as a unique opportunity to engage in advocacy on an international stage and to make recommendations for Canada to fulfil its obligations under binding international laws. Drawing on their research, the professors drafted submissions in the areas of Indigenous rights including their recommendations to address ongoing concerns of the MMIWG Inquiry; policing issues including concerns around the harmful practice of carding, and need for effective de-escalation training; economic justice issues including a human rights focus for national housing and poverty strategies; refugees and resettlement concerns including the need to end immigration detention of children, to increase the number of resettlement spaces for 2018; and the right to be free from torture.