International human rights authorities call for extractive sector ombudsperson

31 January 2017

Failure to regulate, investigate and ensure access to remedy for harms associated with Canadian mining, oil and gas operations overseas is inconsistent with Canada’s international obligations and has attracted the attention of United Nations International Treaty Monitoring Bodies and Regional Human Rights Bodies:

  • In November 2016, the International Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, at paragraphs 18 and 19, expressed concern about violations of the rights of women and girls by Canadian mining companies operating abroad and recommended that Canada introduce “effective mechanisms to investigate complaints filed against those corporations, including by establishing an Extractive Sector Ombudsperson, with the mandate to, inter alia, receive complaints and conduct independent investigations.” CEDAW concluding observations
  • In March 2016, the International Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, at paragraphs 15 and 16, highlighted the need for Canada to introduce an independent mechanism for complaints, to facilitate access to Canadian courts, and to ensure trade and investment agreements recognize the primacy of human rights. ICESC concluding observations.
  • In July 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Committee Report, at paragraph 6, states that it “regrets the absence of an independent mechanism with powers to investigate …” UNHRC report
  • In 2007 and 2012 the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination recommended that Canada “take appropriate legislative measures to prevent transnational corporations registered in Canada from carrying out activities that negatively impact on the enjoyment of rights of indigenous peoples outside Canada, and hold them accountable.” In 2012, the Committee expressly stated that Canada’s CSR Strategy did not fulfill this recommendation: CERD concluding observations.
  • Hearings and reports of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights over the last 3 years have focussed exclusively or heavily on Canadian mining in Latin America
    • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 2016 Report on Extractive Industries
    • November 1, 2013, 149th session “The impact of Canadian Mining in Latin America and Canada’s Responsibility” – submission in English
    • Thematic Hearing on Human Rights and Extractive Industries in Latin America  (scroll down to March 19, 2015). Note the entire section on Canada in the submission