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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

In Defence of Principles

NGOs and Human Rights in Canada

Since 9/11 and the onset of the “war on terror,” the principal challenge confronting liberal democracies has been to balance freedom with security and individual with collective rights. This book sheds new light on the evolution of human rights norms in liberal democracies by charting the activism of four Canadian NGOs on issues of refugee rights, hate speech, and the death penalty, including their use of difficult, often controversial legal cases as platforms to assert human rights principles and shape judicial policy-making. The struggles of these NGOs reveal not only the fragility but also the resilience of ideas about rights in liberal democracies.

224 pages

Law and Society

Table of Contents


Introduction: In Defence of Principles

1 My Brother’s Keeper: The Canadian Council of Churches and the Rights of Refugees

2 The “Misuse” of Freedom? The Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and the Limits of Expression

3 Shocking the Conscience? Amnesty International Canada and Abolition of the Death Penalty

Conclusion: Principles in the Age of Rights


Selected Bibliography


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