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Human Rights at Canadian Heritage

Section 4(2)(a) of the Department of Canadian Heritage Act states that the Department of Canadian Heritage is responsible for the “promotion of a greater understanding of human rights, fundamental freedoms and related values”.

The role of the Department’s Human Rights Program is to promote awareness, understanding, respect, and enjoyment of human rights in Canada. The Program is responsible for raising awareness and understanding of human rights, conducting promotional activities for all Canadians, and reporting to the United Nations on Canada's international human rights obligations. The Human Rights Program focuses on four main areas:

  1. Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Consultation and Coordination;
  2. Canada’s International Human Rights Reporting Processes;
  3. Promotion and Public Awareness; and
  4. Implementation of the Court Challenges Program.

Focus areas


  1. Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Consultations and Coordination

Co-chairing and coordination of

  • the Continuing Committee of Officials on Human Rights (CCOHR) (established in 1975), the principal intergovernmental body for engagement and information-sharing on the elaboration, ratification, and domestic implementation of international human rights treaties.
  • the Senior Officials Committee Responsible for Human Rights (SOCHR) (established in 2018), provides for high-level discussions and decision-making in relation to the work of the CCOHR.

Both committees are composed of provincial and territorial government representatives; and

  1. Canada’s International Human Rights Reporting Processes
  • Preparation and coordination of Canada’s reports to the United Nations human rights treaty bodies on domestic implementation of international treaties to which Canada is a party, as well as Canada’s participation in the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process;
  • Advisory role to Canadian Heritage and other government departments on policy and analysis on domestic and international human rights; and,
  • Coordination with provincial and territorial governments, and engagement with National Indigenous Organizations, other Indigenous groups, and civil society organizations on human rights issues and situations in Canada in support of domestic reporting processes.
  1. Promotion and Public Awareness

Promotion and public outreach in Canada through:

  1. Implementation of the Court Challenges Program
  • Ongoing monitoring of the Court Challenges Program to ensure that expected results are achieved; and
  • Provide advice and recommendations to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and conduct open, transparent, and merit-based selection processes to fill vacancies on the expert panels.

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Human Rights

We are seeking to provide the Canadian public, Indigenous organizations and Canadian civil society organizations a virtual space to learn about human rights in Canada, exchange ideas and participate in various engagement opportunities.

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