2022: STU students contribute to the national research project on federalism and international human rights law

STU students studying human rights are part of a national research project examining local human rights issues in the context of international law.

The project is led by Alex Neve, former Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada and Adjunct Professor of International Human Rights Law at the University of Ottawa and Dalhousie. He oversees research teams as they review the results of UN-level human rights reviews to identify locally relevant issues. Students will also examine the mechanisms in place at the provincial/territorial level to act on recommendations and ensure compliance.

The local component is coordinated by STU’s Atlantic Human Rights Center and is made up of student research teams made up of Brianna Bourgeois and Elisha Gunaratnam studying in New Brunswick, and Paytra Waibel and Graci Young studying at the ‘PEI

Work includes researching provincial government and UN documents, interviews with government officials, lawyers, and civil and Indigenous groups, access to information requests, and review of media reports and other sources. With the exception of STU, all other student research teams come from law schools across the country.

“By analyzing the recommendations at the United Nations level and applying them to the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick and PEI. Waibel said.

“Canada occupies an unfortunately controversial place on the international stage and this research will hopefully help raise awareness and perhaps implement more international standards into domestic law.

Students access this opportunity through the Human Rights Internship course, which is offered to third or fourth year human rights students. Internships are offered through community partner organizations, ranging from government to non-profit community to academics, activists or activists, including the Atlantic Center for Human Rights.

“Having a better understanding of human rights law and its implementation will complement my future endeavors in academia and the workplace and it is an opportunity I will never forget. This internship is an incredible privilege,” added Waibel.

“While Canada sees itself as strongly committed to human rights, there has been little question as to whether we are delivering where it matters most, ensuring that international human rights are upheld consistently and effectively across the country,” Neve said.

“Given the country’s constitutional division of powers, the power to address particular human rights concerns in Canada may be divided or shared between the federal, provincial and territorial governments. Federalism therefore requires innovation to ensure that human rights are meaningfully and consistently respected across the country.

Neve points out that no federal, provincial or territorial government has a specifically empowered Minister of Human Rights and that responsibility for upholding human rights is dispersed throughout government. This lack of explicit human rights leadership poses a challenge to clarity and accountability.

“The responsibility to comply with international human rights does not rest with any particular government in Canada, but rather obligations rest with the country. Governments, working together, must live up to this responsibility.

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