Human rights and Canada’s leadership are as vital today as 70 years ago
Today, on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) underlines its message that everyone is deserving of basic rights and human dignity, not because of their citizenship or their immigration status, but because they are human beings.
For refugees fleeing persecution, Article 14 of the Declaration is key: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” This fundamental right is now part of international and Canadian law. On this basis, anyone who makes a refugee claim at the border or within Canada must be given a chance to explain why they need our protection.
Despite the promise of the Declaration, refugees and migrants still have their rights abused and face exploitation and situations of human trafficking around the world. Migrants are often subject to xenophobia and targeted by divisive politicians.
Canadians can be proud that Canada is showing leadership in bringing countries together to improve respect for the rights of all migrants with the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. While the Compact is not legally binding, it offers a pathway of cooperation between countries that will reduce the pressures forcing people to leave their home countries. When people do migrate, this new framework will increase respect for individual rights and allow receiving communities, including in Canada, to benefit more fully from migrants’ contributions.
As a world leader in championing human rights, Canada must strive to do better and respect the rights of refugees and migrants. This means that Canada should:
- Address the root causes that force people to leave their home countries (including climate change and Canadian involvement in situations of displacement).
- Resettle 20,000 Government-Assisted Refugees each year.
- Process Privately Sponsored Refugee applications within one year.
- Withdraw from the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement.
- Guarantee access to fair and independent refugee determination within a reasonable time.
- Reunite refugees in Canada with their families more quickly.
- Ensure access to justice for exploited or trafficked migrants.
- Offer access to permanent residence to all migrant workers.
- Ensure that immigration status does not bar access to key international rights in Canada. Canada too often ties rights and benefits to immigration status, excluding people with limited or no status.