The Transnational Human Rights Review

Document Type


English Abstract

Canada has a demonstrated interest in sustaining a human rights agenda in Anglophone Africa. While this commitment is of common knowledge, its nature and achievements, as well as associated complications and possibilities have not been subjected to as much critical analysis as these issues deserve. This paper takes a prelusive step towards a rigorous assessment of human rights engagements between Canada and the Anglophone African region within the specific field of women’s health. It conducts a summative appraisal of the nature of norms and a dialectic enquiry into the origin of norms within the context of Finnemore and Sikkink’s theory of the norm life cycle. Arguing that the characteristic diversity of norms complicates Canada’s human rights engagements, the article reaches a three-fold conclusion that (1) proposes a binary micro- versus macro-level analysis of internalization of human rights norms; (2) identifies ‘normative diversity’ – a concept in formation – as a key constraint in the internalization of human rights norms as reflected in norm-based differences, indigeneity, and other metrics of diversity; and (3) highlights the importance of reciprocity as between Canada and Anglophone African states – one in which Canada also benefits from applying lessons learned from its ground operations in the region towards improving its questionable human rights record in the overall healthcare and reproductive health needs of its own Aboriginal women and peoples.