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International law; human rights; Supreme Court of Canada; Disability Convention; law and politics


This paper addresses the topic of international human rights law from the Canadian perspective. As the title suggests, this paper’s analysis of the topic sits at the intersection of law and politics, where all questions of international law necessarily do. It proceeds in three parts. First, it provides a sketch of the political context, drawing from recent events and trends, to describe a conflicted official government approach to international human rights. Next, it examines the formal legal status of international human rights law in Canada, drawing selectively from Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence. Finally, it addresses the adoption of the newest international human rights treaty, the Disability Convention, and discusses calls to promote access to justice at the international level for breaches of Convention norms domestically. Notwithstanding important efforts to advance the status of international human rights law in Canada, the author's overall observation is that, in both law and politics, the Canadian approach to international human rights is predominantly inward looking.