Yet Another Canadian Free UN Expert Body

A leading United Nations human rights expert body will regrettably remain Canadian free for at least another two years after Thursday’s elections in Geneva, Switzerland.

The vote on more than half the membership of the 25-person UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture was once again notable through the absence of any Canadian candidates for this esteemed multi-national UN body.

Canadian free

Nations Unies by MPDO1605 (2008)

The outcome of the tightly contested ballot was announced on 25 October, resulting in the election and re-election of some excellent human rights experts.

Due to Canada not being a State Party to the OPCAT, the country had neither the possibility of putting forward a Canadian candidate, nor the right to cast a vote to determine the composition of the UN’s largest human rights treaty body.

With a vitally important human rights role to play in the global fight against torture, the UN Subcommittee might have benefited significantly from Canadian human rights expertise, which unquestionably exists in abundance in the country. Moreover, in the light of the fact that Canadian experts occupy just one out of 162 seats which comprise the 10 existing UN treaty bodies, Canada’s potentially sizeable human rights role on the international stage remains surprisingly diminished.

Even so, if Canada acted on its OPCAT pledge and swiftly moved forward with the ratification of the instrument, Canada would be strategically placed to advance a Canadian candidate for the next SPT elections due in 2020.

By doing so, the very positive influence of Canada’s accession to the instrument might equally be felt inside the country as well as out.

For readers who are unsure how the UN treaty bodies operate in practice, please watch the short animation below.


Posted by mp in OPCAT, SPT, UN Subcommittee

OHCHR Video on the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has published a series of short, humorous videos about the work of the UN treaty bodies. These include the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, UN Committee against Torture and several others. They are all well worth a watch.

If you liked this short clip, explore OHCHR’s other treaty body animations.

Posted by mp in OPCAT, Torture prevention