CWP, the UN and Human Rights

The United Nations (UN) has a fundamental role in the enforcement of human rights around the world. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights within the UN is the highest authority on human rights in the world.

There are many ways in which the UN monitors the implementation of human rights. Perhaps two of the most relevant to poverty in Canada are the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Universal Periodic Review.


The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is the enforcement mechanism for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which is the foundation of economic and social rights in international law. The Committee is responsible for periodically reviewing member states’ compliance with the ICESCR, a task which involves state actors, UN officials, and non-state actors.

Governments make official reports to the Committee that outline how economic and social rights are being implemented and enforced in their country, while non-government organizations are invited to make parallel reports with their perspective. Canada Without Poverty (CWP) has had the privilege of being invited to present to the Committee at each session on Canada since 1993 when CWP appeared as the first Non-Government Organization at the Committee.

Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review is essentially an assessment of every Member State in the UN and their human rights records, both good and bad. The Universal Periodic Review has the aim of improving human rights (civil/political and economic/social/cultural) in countries around the world. It involves UN Member States, non-governmental organizations and the Human Rights Council coming together to present, question, and hopefully resolve human rights issues in each country.

Most recently, CWP participated in Canada’s second Periodic Review in 2012/2013 by providing a joint submission (with the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation) to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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