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Canada, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and Universal Periodic Review

(2009) 18:2 Constitutional Forum 79-93

15 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2009 Last revised: 15 May 2017

Joanna Harrington

University of Alberta - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 15, 2009


In 2006, a new United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council came into existence, replacing the former UN Commission on Human Rights with a restructured body for the promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms. Heralded as a turning point for human rights within the UN system, the new forty-seven-member Council is intended to operate with a renewed emphasis on fairness, objectivity, and transparency. To help achieve these goals, the Council has developed a new mechanism for monitoring the human rights performance of all states, which it has labeled Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Under UPR, the human rights record of all 192 UN member states will be reviewed and assessed every four years through a process of written reports and interstate dialogue that examines a state’s domestic human rights law and policies, including its constitutional protections. Canada underwent its first UPR review in February 2009, while serving as a member of the Council from 2006-2009. The aim of this article is to provide an assessment of the UPR mechanism through an examination of Canada’s recent experience. An overview of the Council’s creation in 2006 is also provided, as well as the details of the Council’s mandate and functions, including the rules governing the UPR process.

Keywords: United Nations, Human Rights Council, universal periodic review, Canada

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Harrington, Joanna, Canada, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and Universal Periodic Review (November 15, 2009). (2009) 18:2 Constitutional Forum 79-93. Available at SSRN:

Joanna Harrington (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Faculty of Law ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H5
780-492-2286 (Phone)

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