Excellent news! Canada to push for seat on UN Human Rights Council

On May 9th The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced Canada’s candidacy for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2028. The intention is good, but for Canada to be a credible candidate, it has to be a lot more consistent in its support for human rights both in Canada and around the world. A good place to begin would be to start defending the rights of Palestinians. Read more….

“Human rights are the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world,” said Hon. Mélanie Joly in announcing Canada’s intention to apply for member in the UN’s human rights council.Canada’s HRC engagement will be guided by the belief that to confront the challenges that lie ahead, we must reinforce the foundation of human rights, and strive towards a more just tomorrow for everyone.”

Fine words and good intentions. However, fine words and good intentions do not make Canada a credible candidate. Actions count.

On the domestic front, Canada will have to improve its reputation for dealing with its indigenous citizens. Eight years after the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission most of its 94 calls to action still are unimplemented.

On the international front, Canada can improve its reputation on human rights by translating its high minded principles into concrete actions with respect to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Canada’s current policy in that area is riddled with hypocrisy – our “official” policy, available on the Global Affairs website has little do with our “real” policy on the ground. Here are a few examples:

  • Canada claims to support a two state solution, but says and does nothing as Israel takes steps almost every day to make that solution less and less plausible
  • Canada says it believes in a just solution for the Palestinian refugees, but looked the other way when Israeli snipers killed hundreds of Palestinians attempting to return to their homeland during the “Great March of Return’ in 2018.
  • Canada recognizes that Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territories are in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention on War Crimes, yet keeps mum as new buildings are constructed.
  • Canada officially opposes Israel’s expropriations and the demolition of houses and economic infrastructure in the West Bank, yet has signed a Free Trade Agreement with Israel
  • Canada does not recognize Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem, yet does nothing when Israel destroys Palestinian homes in Jerusalem, or seizes houses in Sheikh Jarrah or Silwan.
  • Canada supports the International Criminal Court, but does not want Palestine to be able to use it.

Many human rights observers believe that Canada’s hypocritical attitude toward Palestinian human rights was one of the factors contributing to our embarassing failure to be elected to the Security Council in 2020

What Canada can do?

Canada has been a vocal supporter of human rights in the international arena. But our reputation is spotty – strong in some areas, weak in others, and virtually non-existent in the case of human rights for Palestinians.

Our candidacy as a member for the UN Human Rights Council will be improved if Canada were to make human rights and the active defense of international law the cornerstones of its policy toward the Israel/Palestine conflict. Specific steps could include:

  • Oppose ANY construction of new settlements in the West Bank
  • Make renewal of the Canada-Israel Free Trade agreement contingent on Israeli respect for Palestinian human rights as reported by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinain Territories
  • Respond to the allegations of Israeli apartheid made by reputable international human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch
  • Provide moral and financial support to Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations inside Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
  • Direct our representative in Ramallah to make an annual report to the Canadian Parliament on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
  • Prohibit the entry into the Canadian market of any goods and services produced in whole or in part in the illegal Israeli settlements
  • Join the majority of nations which vote every year in defense of Palestinian human rights at the UN General Assembly.

What can you do?

Subscribers who want Canada to be successful in its bid for membership in the UN Human Rights Council, should write to Hon. Mme Joly (melanie.joly@parl.gc.ca) pointing out that our candidacy will be strengthened by implementing policies which are centred on international law and the protection of human rights for both Palestinians and Israeli Jews. (Even more importantly send copies to your friends, your MP and the Foreign Affairs spokespersons for the major federal political parties.)

Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

Want to learn more about us? Go to Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine


  1. “Fine words and good intentions. However, fine words and good intentions do not make Canada a credible candidate. Actions count. ”
    I could not agree more.
    I have had it with the nice fluffy words that are deceiving.We encounter so much of this in so many domains .
    Stand tall ,speak the truth and walk the talk .

  2. In lieu of Canada’s behaviour in regard to human rights in recent years, it does not deserve a seat. Most policies were and are anti human rights, for example in Venezuela, Haiti, African countries, especially to do with Canadian mining companies, and most outrageous one is the support of Israel unconditionally, with Israel’s record of trampling on almost all internationally accepted human rights.

  3. A good and timely piece Peter.

    I was pleased to see that the situation in Israel and Palestine seems lately to be getting increased attention on a number of fronts, including our parliament. Just yesterday, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development adopted a motion calling for a study on the ongoing violation of Palestinian rights. On Monday, there were statements in the House commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Nakba. The Human Rights Council campaign could offer another hook for mounting pressure on our government to do the right thing on the Israel/Palestine front.

    Best regards,



  4. Thanks for this Peter. At a recent event that I attended on the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, panelist Diana Ralph of Independent Jewish Voices pointed out that the Trudeau Government’s voting record at the UN on the Palestine/Israel issue is even worse that that during the Harper years, which speaks volumes.

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