Do International Human Rights Treaties Work?

Even though many treaties exist for the protection of human rights, violations of these rights still take place every day and work is needed to ensure states enact and enforce appropriate laws for the protection of human rights. The United Nations supports many different bodies that oversee the implementation of treaties by undertaking reports and providing recommendations to signatory states. Intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are also involved on many levels to help ensure human rights are protected and raise awareness when they are not. These organizations may facilitate public awareness campaigns to encourage political pressure on countries that do not respect human rights. These organizations may also help bring court cases before domestic and international courts to bring violators to justice and make human rights laws stronger.

The more we know about international law and the obligations of states under international treaties, the better able we are to use international law as a tool to encourage governments to incorporate and enforce human rights in their domestic laws. As Canadians we have an opportunity – and an obligation – to educate ourselves about the options available under international law and to use these tools in our struggle for equality and peace worldwide.