Document Type


Publication Date


Source Publication

(2016) African Yearbook of International Law


More contemporary Canadian-Nigerian human rights engagements have occurred against the backdrop of a relatively long history of engagement in this area between the two countries, and alongside an even longer history of Canadian-Nigerian relations more generally. These are histories within which one must situate the human rights engagements between these countries during the specific period under study here. As is well known, Canada established diplomatic relations with Nigeria shortly after Nigeria’s independence from British colonial rule in 1960. Nigeria reciprocated in 1973. It is noteworthy that Canada has for several decades now funded or otherwise supported many human rights efforts and struggles in Nigeria (as elsewhere), including in relation to judicial reform, institution building, democratization, and poverty alleviation. While Nigeria has – over time – more or less remained engaged in this relationship, the evidence suggests that Nigeria has not tended to act in a similar manner toward Canada. While the preliminary evidence suggests that the interventions from Canada have played some kind of role in Nigeria, the exact nature, attainments, problems, and prospects of such Canadian-Nigerian human rights cooperation has not been as rigorously studied and widely understood in the scholarly literature as might be expected. The relevant literature (especially its human rights sub-set) is thus relatively inadequate at the moment. Neither Howard-Hassman’s very important 2004 piece on the Canadian intervention regarding the flogging of Bariya Magazu by the authorities in one far Northern Nigerian state (province), nor Sonia Cardenas’ excellent exploration of the various ways in which the Canadian Human Rights Commission has sought to assist national human rights bodies around the world, come close to filling this huge gap in the literature. Similar points can be made concerning work done by the now defunct CIDA, and the writings of scholars such as Feyisetan; the Reliefweb; and Aiyede. As such, it is clear that Canadian/Nigerian policymakers, development practitioners, and scholars will benefit significantly from any additional insight into the afore-referenced questions. So will many among the lettered and relevant segments of the Canadian/Nigerian public. Needless to say, important (albeit preliminary) analogies could also be made from the discussion here in relation to the similarly under-studied aspects of Canada’s human rights role in other African and even developing countries generally.