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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

On the Side of the Angels

Canada and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights

When it comes to upholding human rights both at home and abroad, many Canadians believe that we have always been “on the side of the angels.” This book tells the story of Canada’s contributions – both good and bad – to the development and advancement of international human rights law at the Commission on Human Rights from 1946 to 2006. In it, Canada’s reputation is examined through its involvement in a number of contentious human rights issues – political, civil, racial, women’s, and Indigenous. An in-depth historical overview of six decades of Canadian engagement within the UN human rights system, this book offers new insights into the nuances, complexities, and contradictions of Canada’s human rights policies.

212 pages

Table of Contents

Foreword / Alex Neve


1 Ideologies, Interests, and the “Impracticalities” of International Human Rights Law, 1946–54

2 Tackling Racial Discrimination, 1963–65

3 Tehran and the Struggle for Control of the UN Human Rights Agenda, 1967–68

4 Gross Violations and the Foxes that Guard the Hen House, 1975–79

5 The Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 1982–84

6 Apartheid and the Perils of Casting Stones, 1989–93

7 Equality Rights and the Prohibition of Violence against Women, 1991–94

8 Mass Insecurity and the Demise of the Commission, 1995–2006


Notes; Selected Bibliography; Index

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