International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development
Rights & Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development), is a non-partisan organization with an international mandate. It was created by Canada's Parliament in 1988 to encourage and support the universal values of human rights and the promotion of democratic institutions and practices around the world.
Rights & Democracy works with individuals, organizations and governments in Canada and abroad to promote the human and democratic rights defined in the United Nations' International Bill of Human Rights.
Rights & Democracy enjoys partnerships with human rights, indigenous peoples' and women's rights groups, as well as democratic movements and governments around the world with whom it cooperates to promote human rights and democracy. It is therefore uniquely placed to facilitate dialogue between government officials and non-governmental organizations in Canada and abroad. It is one of the very few organizations with the necessary credibility on both sides to play this bridge-building role.
It initiates and supports projects that advocate the protection of human rights and the strengthening of democratic development, and facilitates the capacity of its partners to do the same.
Rights & Democracy has consultative status (Category II) with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and is on the International Labour Organization's Special List of NGOs. It also has observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.
Democratic Development Programme works with its partners to promote a democratic culture, increase citizen participation in public policy debate and decision making, and strengthen democratic practices and institutions around the world. These efforts are rooted in a sound understanding of national, regional, and international human rights norms and mechanisms, and are complemented by targeted lobbying efforts in Canada and abroad.
The Democratic Development Programme is developed and executed in the specific context of each country, based on local conditions affecting civil society, the state, and the dynamics between them. Rights & Democracy currently works in 13 priority countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Colombia, Haiti, Burma, China, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco and the Palestinian Territories.
Economic and Social Rights
The Economic and Social Rights program at Rights & Democracy promotes use of the human rights framework for development and for monitoring the impacts of economic policy at the national level. In doing so, it seeks to help reduce the gap between international human rights standards and the actual practice of states.
The programme carries out its mandate by supporting civil society organizations in developing countries, publishing action research and conducting advocacy initiatives at both the international and national levels.
Rights & Democracy promotes and defends economic, social and cultural rights as a cross-cutting issue. In particular, the Economic and Social Rights programme maintains a focus on the human right to an adequate standard of living, including the human right to food. The program also maintains a focus on labour rights, particularly in China.
Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The objectives of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Programme are to contribute to the full recognition and implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples nationally, regionally and internationally; to monitor the evolution of jurisprudence and other advances concerning the rights of indigenous peoples, and to support the participation of indigenous women in this process.
Moreover, as a human rights organization, Rights & Democracy also works with other likeminded groups on the adoption of regional and international standards for indigenous peoples, namely the UN and OAS Declarations on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Rights of Women
The overarching focus of the Women’s Rights Thematic at Rights & Democracy is re-affirming women’s rights as human rights. In doing so, it uses various methods and strategies, including national and international advocacy and lobbying. The Thematic has an expertise in addressing the issue of violence against women, in particular violence against women in conflict situations. It seeks to ensure women’s participation in peacebuilding processes and works towards accountability for gender crimes
Rights & Democracy undertakes and supports a number of special initiatives to further its mandate and to contribute to the entrenchment of human rights and democracy around the world. The Urgent Action and Important Opportunities Initiative enables Rights & Democracy to respond quickly and effectively to human rights violations or similar developments that have not been earmarked in the regular budget. The Fund gives Rights & Democracy the flexibility to deal with unforeseen circumstances and take advantage of new opportunities.
The Solidarity Fund provides Rights & Democracy with the flexibility to respond to partners’ urgent, unforeseen needs within the scope of Rights & Democracy’s mandate as well as to enhance existing programming areas.
Where We Work
Middle East / North Africa