Paper Example: International Human Rights and Missing Indigenous People in Canada

Published: 2023-04-11
Paper Example: International Human Rights and Missing Indigenous People in Canada
Type of paper:  Dissertation
Categories:  Women Violence Criminal justice Human rights
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1262 words
11 min read

Murder against indigenous girls and women in Canada has been a subject of discussion within the national media. Over the past few decades, Canada has recorded an appalling number of missing women, specifically from Aboriginal communities (Hansen & Dim, 2019). The disproportionate rate of violence against this group of Canadians, as well, has raised concerns not only within the country's criminal justice system but also in the international community (Hansen & Dim, 2019). The national data indicate that about 25% of murder victims in Canada are the Aboriginal people, which comprises only 5% of the national population (Hansen & Dim, 2019). Sociological research, according to Hansen and Dim (2019), indicates that society and even law enforcement officers view aboriginal mothers who are victims of unlawful acts as less worthy women. Researchers have also linked the murder of indigenous women and girls with the antagonistic relationship between police and the Aboriginal community, where these people are seen as drug dealers and violent gangsters (Hansen & Dim, 2019). Again, police have stereotyped indigenous women as prostitutes, contributing to the violence against them (Hansen & Dim, 2019). The continued calls for justice from different quarters compelled the Canadian government to establish National Inquiry into the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in 2015. However, the United Nations should compel the Canadian government to enforce international human rights laws and its binding treaties because it helps prevent the gross violations of the rights of aboriginal women and girls.

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Comments By the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Organizations

Canada's disappearance and murder of Aboriginal women have been the subject of scrutiny and criticism by the UN. The Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) has described the abuse in question as "a grave violation" of fundamental rights that requires prompt and thorough investigation (OHCHR, 2018). The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), in its published reports, said that the Canadian state has failed to protect indigenous girls effectively (OHCHR, 2018). In 2015, CEDAW investigated the issue and made 38 recommendations that the Canadian government should implement (OHCHR, 2018). The state, however, disagreed with the findings that there had been severe violations of aboriginal women's rights (OHCHR, 2018). One of the CEDAW suggestions that the government has implemented is the establishment of the MMIWG Commission of inquiry (OHCHR, 2018). Notably, the CEDAW recommendations have had positive impacts because it paved the way for the implementation of strategies to reduce violence against indigenous communities. Importantly, here is that MMIWG has promoted healing within the Aboriginal women and their communities (Hansen & Dim, 2019).

United Nations Procedures to Address the Abuse

The UN procedures are essential as they can be used to condemn, criticize, and, more importantly, address human rights abuse in Canada. First, Women's organizations and international organizations can use the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) to condemn the disappearance of Aboriginal girls. Also, this provision is useful in compelling the Canadian government to take immediate action in resolving the problem since it is a member of various UN human rights organizations. Kuokkanen (2012) said that the Declaration on Safeguarding the rights of the indigenous people is a binding treaty, unlike CEDAW. Thus, such groups can use the law to lobby for the UN to compel the Canadian government to honor universal approaches of protecting the fundamental rights of aboriginals.

Secondly, human rights groups can lobby for the use of UN procedures to assess the situation and monitor the implementation of core international laws that protect the rights of indigenous or aboriginal communities. Currently, the Human Rights Council (HRC) has special mechanisms that allow independent experts to assess the implementation of human rights treaties from a country-specific perspective (OHCHR, 2020). Reports of such groups act as the basis of engaging governments in advocacy and raising public awareness (OHCHR, 2020). Here, the procedure of the UN can be used to enhance technical cooperation between OHCHR and the government of Canada. Through this strategy, the Canadian government would get the assistance that would place it in a better position of safeguarding the rights of Aboriginal women.

Additionally, advocacy programs that underpin the special procedures of the UN would not only criticize human rights abuse but also pressure the state to enforce laws that protect Aboriginal people. Independent experts of HRC undertake an annual assessment of specific cases and report to the United Nations about the systems in place and achievements in safeguarding human rights (OHCHR, 2020). This procedure is useful because it would also compel the state to initiate progressive actions in protecting the rights of indigenous girls.

Thirdly, the mechanism of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) can be used to develop a long-term solution to the disproportionate murder and disappearance of Aboriginal individuals. This body undertakes a range of activities aimed at promoting gender equality and protecting the rights of women. Specifically, its special procedures cover all human rights from social to political, economic, cultural, and civil issues relating to women (OHCHR, 2020). UNCSW through Special Rapporteur (SR) members can help resolve the problems by conducting thematic analysis and recommending to its parent body on ways to improve the status of the women. Such procedures are useful in upholding the status of indigenous women.

The UN Pressure on the Canadian Government

The United Nations can use both political and economic pressure to compel the government of Canada to enforce laws that would improve its human rights records. There is a need to force the Canadian government to protect aboriginal women within the county since it is a member of various human rights treaties, including UNDRI, which aims at defending the rights of indigenous people. Since Canada is a first-world economy with enormous resources, the UN can pressure its government through influential actors and developed countries that value human rights. The country has adequate resources to implement the 38 recommendations of CEDAW aimed at liberating Aboriginal women from homicide (OHCHR, 2018).

The abuse in question is severe, suggesting that there is a need for maximum pressure against the Canadian state. One of the approaches that the United Nations can use to compel Canada to enforce core international human rights laws is limiting its government's involvement in UN activities. This strategy is effective since Canada, as one of the founding members of the UN, would not want the international entity to limit its involvement in the organization. Besides, this type of pressure is most effective since the closest allies of Canada, including Australia, the UK, and the US, are also first-world economies with significant political influence.


The Aboriginal people in Canada, especially women, and girls, are targets of homicide in the country. The police see them as prostitutes, an aspect that has contributed to the violation of their fundamental rights. The United Nations, through its human rights bodies, however, can help resolve the disproportionate murder and disappearance of this group of Canadians. In this regard, the procedures or the mechanisms of the United Nations can help address the issue. In the future, mass violation of the rights of Aboriginals would end as the United Nations continues assessing the country's compliance with international human rights laws.


Hansen, J. G., & Dim, E. E. (2019). Canada's missing and murdered indigenous people and the imperative for a more inclusive perspective. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 10(1).

Kuokkanen, R. (2012). Self-determination and indigenous women's rights at the intersection of international human rights. Human Rights Quarterly, 34(1), 225-250.

OHCHR. (2018). The Disappearance of Aboriginal Women. (2020, March 2). How does the UN promote and protect human rights?

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